Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel,the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. ~ Romans 16:25-27
Advent is a season of waiting: we all know that, particularly by now as we draw near to the end of Advent and anticipate the joy of Christmas. The one we are waiting for is almost here! And as the angels proclaimed: that is good news which brings glory to God and peace on earth to those on whom His favour rests.
Yet how does this peace come? What will bring about the shalom – the putting-back-everything-in-its-place order – of this world?
Well, it comes through our calling, and God’s faithfulness.
Our calling to be witnesses of the gospel: which is, in its simplest form, the good news about Jesus Christ. The Lord of all creation is no stranger to humanity, no distant deity, no angry tyrant or passively sentimental grandfather. No, He is the promised one, the hope of Israel, and the true picture of God Himself. Our calling is to tell His story: the good news that Jesus is our Saviour, Teacher, Lord and Friend.
When we tell the story of Jesus, God is right there with us actively working to bring about faith: an ever-increasing trust that the story of Jesus is true, and an ever-increasing allegiance to Jesus as Saviour and Lord, that soon leads to an ever-increasing intimacy with Him as our Teacher and Friend. This maturing faith results in faithfulness: they are two sides of the same coin.
Faith and faithfulness is none other than trusting obedience. Nothing is more natural for a follower of Jesus than obedience, since we not only love Him, but trust Him. Our obedience of faith was where this great redemption project of God’s was heading all along.
So this Christmas, as we joyfully celebrate the birth of Christ, consider again the goodness of faithfulness, and the peace it brings. And give glory to God for it: for all the ways peace has come, in large ways and small.
Yes, there is still much about this world and our lives that is not in peace: that longing for shalom, for salvation, and for justice is central to Advent itself. We are still waiting. But in the meantime, let’s not lose sight of the peace that comes through our obedience: the addictions and idolatries we have turned away from, the gifts we have received and shared, the blessings we gave in response to evil, and the forgiveness we offered that led to reconciliation. It is very likely that much of this peace is evident around you this Christmas – not perfectly, and not completely – but present nonetheless. May you be given eyes to see and celebrate the many ways in which your faithful obedience to Jesus, and the obedience of your sisters and brothers in Christ, has brought a measure of shalom to this world.
Which all brings “glory to God forever through Jesus Christ.”
Bless you this Christmas.