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advent ... what it is

Long before the church acquired institutional trappings, Christians were using the latin word adventus to introduce others to their belief that the divine had entered this world. Adventus means coming. Christians claimed the one and only true God had come in the person of Jesus. They went on to claim this same Jesus will return as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Advent today occupies the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. It proclaims that Christians have an out-of-this-world hope. Advent reminds believers how that hope offers deep yet unexplainable joy, regardless of circumstances. And that hope and that joy nurtures real peace—quiet assurance. All because we are loved unconditionally by the heavenly Father.
Advent defines the Christian’s present reality. Believers look back on the first advent of Christ as a helpless baby who matured into the Suffering Servant: the Savior who conquered death. Simultaneously, Christians live in expectation of the second advent when Jesus shall return to earth as its rightful Ruler, ushering in a far better reality than the one with which humans currently struggle.

Advent also confronts Christ-followers with a radical challenge.

It insists believers live both as children of God and as servants of others. What does that look like? Well, in his letter to Philemon, the apostle Paul challenged a slave-owner to cease being a master. Paul insisted he relate to slaves as sisters and brothers. Even more radically (and politically incorrect), the apostle Paul instructed a run-away slave to return to his master.

Christianity is a radical thing. For those who doubt its revolutionary chops, consider the Cross and recall Jesus’ demand that His followers take up their own cross and follow Him.

Consumer Christianity neuters discipleship, it wants a comfortable Christianity—faith that’s a win-win. The apostle Paul’s letter to Philemon is a slap in the face to all of us who seek a comfortable faith. Advent challenges Christians to live sacrificially; to live in this material reality as aliens and foreigners. It gently yet persistently reminds Christians that we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Advent insists that the believer’s primary purpose in this world is to advocate and agitate for Christ’s Kingdom.

Finally, Advent warns unbelievers that the Kingdom of Heaven is coming. ~

Dan Nygaard