I was at the Hallmark store the other day looking for Advent candles. I wanted so badly to celebrate Advent, but my Advent wreath was in storage. I missed observing the first Sunday of Advent. My husband suggested we begin after I could find the candles. While I waited to pay for the candles at the store, the woman in front of me turned to go back to find something she had forgotten. She looked at me for a moment, then as if she was reminded of being in a better social class, she elevated her gaze above and beyond me. I’ve seen that before. It’s as if to say, "I am above you". Mind you, rarely would I shop such a store nor consider dropping $300 there for frivolous stuff! The last I knew, my $20 was as good as anyone else’s money. The cashier knew that. She was polite and helpful, cheerfully accepting my payment.
This woman’s attitude got me thinking about how many Christians develop the attitude of being better than everyone else. I know I’ve dealt with this topic before, but not quite from this perspective. Some bring the social class attitude to church with them. They drive the “right” car, wear the “right” clothes, and associate with the “right” people. At a few churches I’ve attended, during the greeting time of service, they shake someone’s hand reluctantly, never making eye contact with the person. He must not be the “right” person. They hobnob at church social events in order to be seen with the pastor, the church board president, or other “right” people. I have discovered that I am not one of the “right” people. But that’s okay, because when we are in Heaven it won’t matter. What will matter is Whose we are.
What a piece of work some people are. They think they are something when they are “nothing” more than anyone else. What do I mean? You’ve heard the phrase, “Boy that guy is a real piece-a-work!” The reference is negative. It means the person isn’t up to par, or a few bricks short of a load. Actually aren't we all a piece of work? Why do we pridefully think we are "something" when we are not? We all fall short of the glory of God, don’t we? We are all a piece of work in process.
Advent is the time of year when we are reminded of Christ coming to earth as someone quite unexpected. The prophets told about a Messiah yet to come, but the people of Israel 2,000 years ago were looking for someone quite different. Somehow a baby born in a barn with smelly animals wasn't what they imagined. They were thinking the Messiah would be a military deliverer who would overtake the country who had taken them captive. Something more gallant. He would have to grow up; maybe He still would. But instead He was stripped bare, whipped beyond recognition, dying a death that criminals died. Not what they expected at all.
Since the time of Daniel they had been under the rule of foreign countries. They lost their home land. It changed hands from the Babylonians, to the Greeks, then to the Romans. The Israelites were disgusted by their captors, longing to be freed. These Gentiles' behavior, gods, and lifestyle were repulsive. The Jews thought they were better than those who held them captive because they were "God's chosen ones". I can imagine them sitting in Synagogue listening to the reading of the Prophet Isaiah with thoughts of, “When will He come to free us? I can’t wait!” Neither one was better than the other. This showed when Jesus stood with Pilate and Barbabas as the Jews shouted 33 years later, "Crucify Him!" What a piece of work they all were.
Jesus came to the right place, in the right way, at the right time for us. God didn't send the "right" people to announce His arrival. He didn't hobnob with all the "right" people. He was exactly what we all needed. He offers us salvation in the manner which we needed, not worrying about what everyone thought. They all must have thought He was a real piece of work during His life on Earth. I remember a song called, "What if God Were One of Us" by Joan Osborne, a song my daughters used to sing at Christmastime in our church. In the video on Youtube, com, people put their heads in the cardboard cutout of Rembrandt's "God" image. She sings about a God who goes through daily life like us. We have a Savior with whom we can identify. He was born, grew up, ate, slept, felt pain. But He died and rose again to sit at the right hand of God the Father. He was the Son of God, yet He was God Himself. We can't make Him into our image, rather He makes us into His image. We are a piece of His work in His hands.
What about you? What do you hope for in life? What do you wish to be freed from? Remember that we are all a piece of work Jesus came to save. We are a lovely mess in need of a Savior. He came to free us of our sin, to re-make us into His image. This week let's rest in Hope.
When researching Advent, I found this from "Our Daily Bread" December 1, 2011 written by Julie Ackerman Link: "During Advent, we emphasize hope, peace, joy, and love, which God sent with Christ.
HOPE. We have an inheritance reserved in heaven, a living hope through the resurrection of Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3-5).
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV
PEACE. We will love life and see good days if we turn from evil and do good and if we seek peace, for the Lord watches over the righteous and hears their prayers (3:10-12).
JOY. We have inexpressible joy even though we have trials because our faith is being tested and prove genuine. The end of this faith is the salvation of our souls (1:6-9).
LOVE. We can love one another with a pure heart because we have been born again through the Word of God which lives and abides forever (1:22-23)."
I would like to focus on these passages through the Advent season. May God bless you!