My posts come from my personal daily scripture readings and a part of my personal accountability. If we are going to grow as followers of Christ, we must be in the Word! If you miss these a few days, something has kept me from it; but if they're gone for too many days, call me on the carpet. We need to hold one another accountable. Join me on this journey as our lives are to Reflect the Image-and Jesus IS the image. Peace, Carla Sunberg
Subscribe to this blog
Follow by Email
The Advent of Character
Walls were broken down by the advent of Christ.
Hebrews 13:13 Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 15 Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews is pointing out something very unique about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The altar was within the walls of Jerusalem, and the place of burial was outside the city gates. To go outside the city was to leave the holy sites and become unclean. In Christ the unholy becomes holy. It is outside the camp that Christ suffered and died and in his death, he sanctified that which the Jewish leaders would have condemned as unclean.
For the Jews the message was clear, for to identify with Christ was to break with Judaism. This meant leaving the “safety” of the holy places within the city walls and venturing out with Jesus into the unclean world where they would face those who would persecute them and ridicule them for their beliefs. This, however, was not supposed to become a factor in the lives of these believers because the place of Jesus’ death opened up an avenue to a new city and way of life for them. Now, they appear to be living in the world, but they are not of this world. Walking in and among the unclean, the people of God would bring the holiness of Christ with them.
The challenge is for the lives of the believers to be a continual sacrifice of praise, lips that confess the name of Christ. The character of Christ is revealed in his followers who do good, share their possessions and the good news and discover that in God’s kingdom, this is pleasing.
The advent of the Messiah into the world brought about the advent of a new kingdom. You and I are invited to become citizens of this new kingdom which exists within and among the kingdoms of this world. We are not supposed to run off and separate ourselves from the world, but we are to learn how we live in God’s kingdom in the midst of the world’s kingdoms. This is the example that Christ has provided for us. The very place of his death, outside the city gate, provides a roadmap for our Christian lives within the kingdom of God.
First of all, Jesus provides for our sanctification. It is God’s desire that we be sanctified wholly, each and every one of us. Entire sanctification is not an optional arrangement for the super-spiritual. Jesus’ death sanctified all that the Jewish law considered unholy. He made it possible for each and every one of us, ordinary people of the world, to be made holy through his death, resurrection and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ arrival was simply the advent of a whole new way of living for God’s people.
Once we begin to live within the kingdom of God, we shed the behaviors that we had in common with the world. We are no longer drawn to become as much like the world as we possibly can, but are continually pulled in the direction of Christ. I continue to be on an interesting journey with my mother who, at times, is able to share very coherently with me about her thoughts. On a morning where her mind was clear she wanted to hug me good-bye and she told me that the pull toward heaven was very strong. She apologized to me but had a big grin on her face saying, “I’m sorry because I’ll miss you, but I really want to go.” Now, while my mother may be nearing the end of her life, those who are new in their faith are just at the beginning of the spiritual journey. At the same time there ought to be this draw or pull toward the kingdom of God. It takes us from the unclean and moves us into a life that reflects the very character of God.
Participating in Advent means that we become active citizens in God’s kingdom, reflecting the very character of Christ. We move outside the safe comfort of the city walls (or the church walls), and we go into the unclean spaces of this world, carrying with us the very holiness of Christ. We are challenged to believe in the miraculous and powerful work of the Holy Spirit that can radically transform the unclean into the pure and holy. That’s why we must go and do good, sharing our possessions, but never forgetting to share the good news of Christ’s arrival. Why would we forget to tell people about the new kingdom which has the power to transform their lives? This is the best news of advent, and if we are engaged in doing good things, don’t forget to tell others about the way to transformation. It’s the best gift yet.
Lord, please help me to live every day in the pull of advent. Amen.
Rom. 6:22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Two sides of life are presented here in great contrast. One is a life of sin and enslavement to evil. The other side of life is freedom which provides the advantage of sanctification (or holiness as some translate the word) that leads to eternal life. The options here are a life of sin, slavery and death; or freedom, holiness and eternal life.
The advantage of holiness or sanctification is the benefit of the life of freedom. Jesus died so that we might be made holy like him and this is something that is offered as a “fruit” or “advantage” right now. The end is eternal life — but the living of life is that it can be lived out in holiness.
The next verse is really just an affirmation of the verse 22. Sin will lead …
Ex. 33:4 ¶ When the people heard these harsh words, they mourned, and no one put on ornaments. Ex. 33:5 For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, and I will decide what to do to you.’” Ex. 33:6 Therefore the Israelites stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.
The people had sinned before God by making and worshiping the golden calf! They had taken their golden jewelry — the earrings and other items they had gotten from the Egyptians and used them to create an idol. Now, in an act of humility and repentance they were to take off all of their jewelry and ornaments. It was a time of mourning over their sin and it included intentional action on the part of the Israelites. Application:
We don’t do all that well with humility and repentance! It seems that we live in a time when we try to carry on…
Scripture: Mark 8:31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Observation:
Peter had openly declared that Jesus was the Messiah when suddenly the conversation shifted to suffering, rejection and death. With his affirmation of Jesus as Messiah, Peter had brought with him all of the connotations of that term. Jesus was to be a great military leader, a Davidic Messiah, who would save the people from the earthly authorities. Jesus’ description was a paradigm that didn’t fit into Peter’s thinking.
Peter’s rebuke of Jesus was severe. The language reflects a long and unpleasant conversation. The…