My Advent read this year is Bill Hybels’ Simplify. It might seem a strange choice to some as it’s not about candles or wise men or shepherds. But given that most of us need to clear space to get the most of this season (see my recent blog Making Space) I think it’s a timely book for the season.
In the complexity of life we sometimes need someone to help us see what’s really important. A friend shared some wise advice with me this week about my use of time, bravely challenging me to use it better. That very much ties in with what I’m reading from Hybels, and reminds me that in the complexity of life God often wants to speak to us about what’s most important.
When Jesus walked this earth and left the most amazing deposit of teaching to help us, he said that one day he’d return and be looking for basically one thing (Luke 18:8). Faith. And that’s what Christ is still looking for! He’s longing to discover a people who will choose to believe him. Who’ll not get so caught up in the complexities of life that they miss what’s most important. Faith.
Advent is a great opportunity to put this right by simplifying and choosing faith. Because we all have a choice at this time of year: either to celebrate with Christ or without him. To put him in the centre or at the periphery. To worship him or something else. To spend time with him or neglect him. And the way we live our lives and focus our energies will reflect this choice. In the end, it’s about faith.
Choosing faith, however, is not just a short-term thing for Advent. It’s a choice for life. It’s a choice we make at baptism that’s both good and difficult. But all life-choices are like that. Think of the life-choice of marriage, which is a great act of faith! Choices are made as life-changing vows are said. We celebrate and there’s much joy! But then the vows need living – which at times can be very difficult. What helps of course, is love. Love holds a marriage together. And it’s no different with our relationship with God. Yes it’s an act of faith and takes faith. But at the heart of it all is love. Not just our love for God, but most importantly his life for us – his big, strong, committed love that makes faith in him not only possible but good. Really good!!
What Jesus wants from us is faith (see yesterday’s blog). Faith in Advent. Faith in him. Faith for life. It begins with a simple choice.
‘When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?’ (Luke 18:8)