This is the third week of our series we are calling, “I come to do your will.” We read these words on the lips of Jesus many times in the gospel passages, it is in the psalms and we see them in the letter to the Hebrews in our fourth week. Jesus says he did not come on his own but he came to do the will of his Father. What an example we receive from Jesus, doing the will of the one who sent him. We want to look at the coming of Jesus, and prepare for a season of anticipation and waiting. Looking at the readings over these four weeks has been leading us to the great Christmas celebration, Jesus coming with a purpose.
In this first week we looked at the promise. God made a promise to the house of Israel and we read that the days are coming when God will fulfill his promise. God promises through covenant, and God keeps his promise even when the covenant has not be fulfilled by those to whom God has made promises. It is the power of God’s promise that brings justice and righteousness, strength and the teaching of a new life, a life where we stand tall in front of God, the Holy One. So the first week we looked at promise and how God always fulfills his promise.
Last week we looked at glory. We see that glory is coming. Glory is probably one of the most pervasive words in the bible, we see it so many places. Glory is the reason God created each one of us, for his glory. What does it mean? God wants us to live so that when people see us, they will say I want to know God. As we plan for the coming of Jesus, looking at it two ways; Jesus coming as a baby on Christmas day and Jesus coming a second time to let us see the full glory of God, we want to recognize that a huge result of Jesus coming is that we more fully know the glory of God. So last week we looked at the coming of glory.
This week we look at how this coming is to make God known. It is a week of announcing and rejoicing so the world will know God left all behind to come and dwell among us. We can announce God through our words but it is our deeds that makes God most irresistible today. We hear in the readings kindness will make God known, giving and sharing will make God known, and gratefulness and thanks will make God known. We spend these weeks preparing ourselves for the coming of Jesus, we celebrate his birth as a baby and we ready ourselves for his second coming. When Jesus walked the earth crowds followed him. His miracles and healings attracted people but more than that they were attracted to how he welcomes and accepts them, a shepherd who loves his sheep. We are challenged today to make Jesus known, to do so we should do it as he did, share kindness, generosity and gratefulness. Jesus came to do the will of the Father, and to make the Father known.We hear in the readings kindness will make God known, giving and sharing will make God known, and gratefulness and thanks will make God known. Click To Tweet
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Third Sunday of Advent, derived from a Latin word, advent means coming. The readings are; Zephaniah 3:14-18A; Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6; Philippians 4:4-7 and Luke 3:10-18. Each reading is about shouting to announce God coming and rejoice in gratefulness. There is much anticipation about coming of Christ. The people expecting Christ begin to ask if Christ is among them. God has prepared the people so that they might know the coming of the Messiah, the Christ. But it takes many to announce and proclaim the mission of Jesus. If we want to do the will of the Father we must make God known to all.
The first reading from Zephaniah a minor prophet proclaims a message prior to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. He prophesizes the destruction of the nation of Judah and the neighboring countries. And he prophesizes salvation, particularly for those who remain. This proclamation of salvation is contained in the days reading. The main message we read; be glad and exult with your heart, the Lord has removed judgment against you, turning away your enemies. While this prophecy speaks to near in events that will occur during the time of Zephaniah, we can easily make a corollary to the coming of Christ. Those who know, know the coming of Christ is always a time to be glad and exult as our salvation is near. Christ coming is to gather all those to be saved and return them to a restored Kingdom of God, Thus it is important that God be known, all must recognize that God is in our midst renewing his love. If we don’t know God how can we be attracted to God’s coming? How can we be joyful at the coming of Christ? By all predictions those who do not know God will only see fear and trepidation. We must take responsibility to share God’s goodness so all might be saved.
In the second reading from Philippians we are exhorted to rejoice in the Lord. Paul says that our kindness should be known to all, we should have no anxiety and we should be grateful and give thanks. He says we should be and do these things because the Lord is near. When we are a follower of Jesus we should be kind, peaceful and thankful. This is how Jesus lived his life and we should imitate him. By imitating Jesus we can imitate his attractiveness and be someone that others see Jesus reflected. Once we are attractive like Jesus then others can satisfy their curiosity by coming to know God through Jesus. We must always be kind, peaceful and thankful. All we have to do is make the introduction, God will take care of the rest. We do the will of the Father if we make God known by being a person others want to imitate as they wanted to imitate Jesus.
In the gospel of Luke John the Baptist proclaims the coming of one who is greater than he. He is telling people how to be prepared, but in reality he is telling us how we should always live as a follower of Jesus. We should be generous, fair, and share. With John’s prediction the people are anxious to get themselves right before the coming of the Messiah. However, we do not know when Jesus will return, so we need to be perpetually ready. The gospel tells us Jesus comes and will separate the good from the bad, he will challenge us in many other ways and he will preach good news. Jesus does the will of the Father, the Father wills that all may know him. Jesus example again is to live to be attractive and to tell people about God. Jesus came from the Father to do the will of the Father and he wants everyone to know the Father. His living and preaching have the singular goal to make God know. We as followers inherit Jesus mission; do God’s will to make God known. Our first step is to be like Jesus.
Coming to know God is everyone’s first step and the steps continue as we grow in discipleship. We meet God and feel an attraction to know God more and more. We deepen our understanding and knowledge of God, and we come to desire God in our life more fully each day. Our job is to make the introduction, live so others ask us why we are so good, so generous, so kind, why we share and live in peace. When people see how we live, that our lives glorify God, they too will want to become a follower. At this point God can work in their lives as he has worked in ours. By doing the will of the Father we have made him known to those who don’t know him.When people see how we live, that our lives glorify God, they too will want to become a follower. Click To Tweet
In order for God to be known we who know him must share what we know. God has no other plan than that we share about him from person to person. Certainly, the creator of the universe could have created another means, but God depends on us. As we talked about last week when speaking about glory, God created us that we may glorify him. So we must live with God in our life and point to God through all our good deeds and love. It is in imitating God’s love and mercy that people will look to us and say I want some of what they have, I want to be more like them, I want to know God.
But really knowing God can be a challenge for us. God does not follow the patterns that the world follows. The Kingdom of God is not anything we can see in this world. The Kingdom of God is a place where everyone is invited; the good and the bad, the humble and the arrogant, the saint and the sinner, the nice and the obnoxious, the quiet and the loud, the truthful and the liar, Mother Theresa and Adolf Hitler. God does not hold back an invitation from anyone. Sometimes we don’t understand, how could someone evil be invited to be part of God’s Kingdom? God does not have a system we can understand, it is not like anything in the world, is not like any political system we might favor or despise.The Kingdom of God is a place where everyone is invited; the good and the bad, the humble and the arrogant, the saint and the sinner, the nice and the obnoxious, the quiet and the loud, the truthful and the liar, Mother Theresa and… Click To Tweet
The Kingdom of God is not like any value system that we are accustomed too. God’s flips what we know as the world view upside down. His system of fair is not what think is fair. God’s value system is grace; undeserved, unearned, unearnable favor. We can’t work for it, we can’t pray for it, we can’t even do good works for it. Grace is God’s means to make everything okay. It is God’s way of letting a bad thing that we might do, go away, make it disappear like it never happened. Only God can deliver grace and accepting grace does not make us any more special than anyone else. God’s grace makes us all special.God’s value system is grace; undeserved, unearned, unearnable favor. We can’t work for it, we can’t pray for it, we can’t even do good works for it. Click To Tweet
When Jesus tells about the Kingdom of God we hear about stories like the Good Samaritan, someone who goes to extraordinary measures to help someone they didn’t know, someone they were not supposed to even associate with. Or the Kingdom of God is like a landowner who hires day workers at different hours of the day and at the end of the day pays each the same day’s wage. The Kingdom of God is forgiveness as in the case of a woman caught in adultery who is forgiven and told to go and sin no more. The Kingdom of God is where the last shall be first and the first last. The Kingdom of God is where a person has two cloaks and gives one to someone who has none. It is a place where generosity is the most practiced value.The Kingdom of God is where a person has two cloaks and gives one to someone who has none. It is a place where generosity is the most practiced value. Click To Tweet
God’s way is not a way that attracts a following. We like things fair; where a days work is paid fairly, not generously, where sinners are held accountable for their sins. Where better is rewarded over good and certainly over bad. Sometimes we followers decide what other followers should look like and exclude those who just don’t fit into our image. An image that might include, someone who goes to church every Sunday, saying all the right prayers. They tighe and serve when they can and they act and think just like everyone else who does those same things. We draw a circle around who is in and who is out and decide those in are the real followers of God and the others need to be prayed over.
For God no circle is ever big enough and certainly it excludes no one. Sometimes this is a challenge for people in the circle. People like me who started following God as a baby and never stopped. I do all the right things and say all the right things and people see me as someone who follows God. I attend Sunday’s, I serve, I pray, I even give generously (in moments.) I have always been with God. So I am not sure I really like the story of the thieve on the cross next to Jesus who ended up in paradise that day just for saying a few right things in the end. He is not equal to people like me that spend more time with God, work harder, work all our life in fact. This system of grace is just not fair. It doesn’t reward good behavior, or hard work.
But have i relied on thus unfair system of grace? I was born to a good family that had money, providing a good education, they helped me get a good job so I had plenty of free time. I was able to raise a family and teach them about God and grace. I suppose if God was being fair I could have been born someplace where I would have to work twelve hour days, six days a week, just to have a roof and some food. Or somewhere were just living I risked be killed. I guess in reality I too received grace even before I was born, in the how and where I lived, the opportunities open to me and the good fortune I have had my entire life. Is what I received fair compared to others who did not have my fortune. Am I living by grace and wondering about fairness? Ultimately everything is up to God, all that I have and all they you have is gift and grace of God.
If we are to make God known we first must make sure we know the grace we have been afforded in our lives. We must also be careful not to draw a circle around who we think is in and who is out. We must always live knowing that everything is from God. We must live gratefully announcing all that God has done for us in the world. We must announce about a God who gives the undeserving what they do not deserve. Tell about God who puts the last first, and favors the poor, the needy and the disabled. We must tell about God who flips the pyramid of success upside down, who calls the foolish of the world to shame the wise, the weak of the world to shame the strong. God whose Kingdom is nothing like anything the world knows. This is God, this is who we must make known.If we are to make God known we first must make sure we know the grace we have been afforded in our lives. We must also be careful not to draw a circle around who we think is in and who is out Click To Tweet
I come to do you will
God’s will is that all will be invited to his Kingdom. He makes no exception nor excludes anyone from invitation, for any reason. Although God’s Kingdom is not anything we know, it is what is best for us all. We shouldn’t let someone live without at least the possibility of knowing about God if we can help it.
Jesus is coming and we are preparing. We have a wonderful season to make an invitation to someone. Maybe we have a neighbor, or family member who we know is curious and just needs a little assurance from us. Make an invitation for them to join you at Christmas. Churches are at their best during Christmas, they are ready for new invitees.But most important live your life as though God matters. Let your deeds show that God is alive in your life, in fact without God you would have nothing. Click To Tweet
But most important live your life as though God matters. Let your deeds show that God is alive in your life, in fact without God you would have nothing. Live the truth, that everything comes from God. Jesus was our best example of living life dependent on God. Even our theme, “I come to do you will,” are the words spoken and lived by Jesus. His entire life was to live and fulfill the mission of God. We should know we are doing the same, whether we acknowledge it or not, our life is gift from God. God gives us grace to live in such a way that when others see us God is glorified. What we must realize is that everything does come from God and we should be thankful and boastful of God who provides all.
In this season of coming, it is the best time to make God known. Many are open to discover God during a time as beautiful as Christmas. Take a risk and let people see God through you. In living so God can be seen through us, we are doing the will of God.Many are open to discover God during a time as beautiful as Christmas. Take a risk and let people see God through you. Click To Tweet