If you have driven in the night, then you know that the lights are coming. Sometimes it doesn’t matter in that they don’t affect you much. However, on a narrow road it does matter, especially if the oncoming vehicle is using bright lights. If you are not mentally prepared, if your mirror is not tilted correctly, and your eyes are not ready, you can be overwhelmed. How much more do you need to prepare for the marvelous light.
Jesus Christ is the Light of the World who calls you into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Yet, you are surrounded by so many lights that attract, even dazzle, Hence, being focused is critical in preparing for this light in this season of Advent.
Keep the Focus On the Marvelous Light
It’s not only the Christmas lights, or holiday lights as some prefer (go figure) that can distract you. Those are the obvious lights. It is easier to keep the focus when these lights are easily visible. However, there are more subtle lights.
These are the lights that offer themselves as an alternative to Jesus Christ. They offer an experience that’s based solely on how you feel, minus a commitment to any one who is greater. These lights exalt the self. When the self is exalted, you do not need to go out of your way or make sacrifices for anyone else, unless it makes you feel good. It is a vague type of light that “shines” without the cross and subsequent glory.
On the contrary, the marvelous light of Jesus comes through the cross. This light to which you are called is a command to love God with everything you have and love others as you love yourself. There is no first or last. There is no sequence. You love all at the same time. Follow Christ. Keep the focus on loving God, others, and self, and you’ll be better able to keep the focus on the marvelous light.
Take God Out of the Box
Keeping the focus on the marvelous light requires taking God out of the box. Which box? The box that sets the agenda and expects God to follow. The box that prescribes how God should work and gets angry when God does not follow that script. The box that decides whom God will work through, who is worthy and who is not. The box that refuses to acknowledge that God can do the impossible. The box that has exchanged the reign and kingdom of God for the kingdoms of this world and is filled with greed and gold. It is a box where God is worshiped in exchange for your best and richest life.
Remember that there are people who have taken God out of the box. You have great examples to follow. Consider Zechariah and Elizabeth. They got rid of the box and Zechariah received back his speech after they followed what God said in naming their son John. Look at Mary and Joseph, and their obedience and subsequent birth of Jesus Christ.
God does the amazing once you stop trying to put a box around God. Oh, what follows may not give you fame. It not be comfortable. You may not even see the results immediately. However, once you worship, obey, and serve God without limits, you will be surrounded by the marvelous light. You will be changed as will others. Are you preparing for this light? Then open your heart.
Open Your Heart to Receive Others
When you stop trying to box God in, you can now open your heart as you prepare for the marvelous light. Open your heart to the beauty of God’s creation. Open your heart to the people whom God loves, and receive them.
To open your heart to receive others is to receive them without conditions, as God has received you. It is to move from disinterest to care and empathy. It is to remember and live the Scripture: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
To open your heart to receive others, therefore, is to go below the surface. It is more than a passing acknowledgement. If fear of the other threatens to take over, you remember the freedom that you have in and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. You allow that you may be hurt because there are no guarantees—only the command to love. Nevertheless, you seek their best and you pray toward that end. You realize that this genuine openness can only come through prayer. And, so you pray to be all that you are called to be in the marvelous light.
Jesus Christ has come. Jesus Christ will come again. And so you prepare to remember and celebrate his birth and his return. Prepare for the advent of this marvelous light through focus, serving a God without limits, as you open your heart to receive not only the Christ child, but the others for whom he came.
(If you’re on my mailing list, be on the lookout for 12 days of prayer before Christmas, beginning tomorrow, Monday 14th.)
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