Christmas easily remains the biggest holiday of the year here in the United States, but of course Jesus is hardly an afterthought in society’s celebration of it. But even for us Christians Jesus may not be our vision or goal as he’s supposed to be.
Last Wednesday a group of us guys were together at our weekly study and sharing with Pastor Jack at our church. We were talking about what our goal should be, and how holiness fits into that, something to that effect. I answered in terms of the new humanity, that in Jesus we’re made human as God intended. But I was missing the point, as I think the next person gave the answer Jack was looking for, indeed the true answer. Our goal is Jesus himself! Nothing less. Everything else in a sense is a means to that end. Yes, God wants us to be holy as he is holy. But not just to be holy. But to be in communion with him, and with others in him.
It is good to know about Jesus. In fact we need to learn what we can from scripture, God’s word, in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). As well as all we can from the rest of the New Testament, and indeed from the entire Bible. But we can have all of that down to a tee, yet if we fail to know the one of whom we’ve read and studied, we miss the point entirely. In fact, tragically we can miss the boat, and not even know God. We can be so taken up with learning all we can about that someone, that we fail to really get to know them. Which in the case of Jesus means we end up missing out entirely. Or as Christians we fail to know him as we really need to.
It is amazing the difference when I really make the conscious choice and practice to seek to draw near to God, and get to know him through and in Jesus. Old problems which plague me seem to weaken in their grip, and in time all but fall away. Although my practice needs to be ongoing, so that it becomes second nature* to me in time. Growing in the depth of relationship to God through Jesus will necessarily be a growing, expanding matter. No one has arrived, we must continue on, or we will stagnate and fall back.
Advent is a time of focusing on our Lord’s coming to earth in the Incarnation. Even as we think of his wonderful birth, and why he came, let us also draw close to him, laying our lives at his feet. And thanking him over and over for his great love for us. And for the world.
*Virtues in Jesus becoming over time by practice “second nature” to us is a recurring theme in N.T. Wright’s book: After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, another important, even “must read” from him.