There is an element of escapism that pervades Christianity.
And it’s understandable, really. The concept of Heaven is a pretty big carrot hung out in front of us. It’s natural to yearn for the end of the story when all things will be made new and everything will be put to rights. Part of us should always look forward to that day.
But there is also something at work in every human being that bleeds over into our Christianity. There is a very human tendency toward a “grass is greener” mentality. We envision that “better” is out there somewhere — a better thing, a better place, a better circumstance. It’s in that place where an easier life exists with more joy and peace and love.
In other words, our hope is often placed in some external or far off time and place. We long for what could possibly be. That place where we are not hindered by the reality of our present existence.
But such hope is little more than a whisper, a vapor that appears before us but never quite materializes. We get a short glimpse, but then it is gone. It diverts our attention only for a moment before we are brought back to reality.
Hope can be the sugar-high of emotions.
As Trevor mentioned yesterday, however, Christian hope is not about escaping our circumstances. Rather, it is grounded in reality. We see this in the Incarnation. Let me explain.
Genesis 1:31 is the ending of a beautiful poetic beginning to Scripture describing God making the world, bringing order out of the chaos. After he has created everything, he surveys his work — and particularly the man and woman — and declares that it is very good. God loves what he has made. He is pleased.
We know that soon that creation is marred with sin and brokenness. Which is what we often think of when we talk about the world. In many ways sin has thrown the world back into chaos. So much pain and darkness. And we long to escape from that reality to a better one.
But God does not escape or abandon. Instead he doubles down and invests. He comes down to earth in the most humble of ways — as a lowly child born in an animal barn to a poor family from the backwoods of Israel. God came down to earth as a human.
And in that act that he confirmed that being human was not dirty or shameful. It is — as it always has been — a very good thing. The Incarnation validates his original claim at the end of Genesis. This is good. It is very good.
And hope is not out there.
Hope is here. Right here. Right now.
In Advent we long for the coming Christ because he brings hope to us. This takes our eyes off the horizon and focuses us more clearly on our next steps. Because that is where hope is found. What Jesus brings into the world is not simply the promise of better days in the future, but a chance to bring order out of the chaotic world. An opportunity to find joy and peace and love right now. Hope is accessible. A better life is very real.
So today may we live into the Advent of Jesus. May we live with longing and anticipation because what Jesus brings into the world is not far off or short-lived. Rather it is the reality of a new kingdom. A new way. A better life. Let us all rejoice today in the Advent of our Savior.
Because hope is here.