How should God act? Many of us have from time to time wondered if we have believed in vain. We find ourselves in hard spots and in dark times and we wonder, sitting in whatever prison we are locked up in… and we question whether it was worth it or not. This is where John the Baptizer certainly was when he heard what Jesus was teaching and preaching and doing. Jesus wasn’t acting like the Messiah. He was acting far too weak and wimpy. The Messiah, once he was revealed, should be confronting all the people who were making life difficult for the chosen people kicking butts and taking names – preferably in that order. But Jesus wasn’t doing any of that. So he asked one of his followers to go and speak with Jesus to find out who Jesus really was. Had John made a major mistake? Did he back the wrong horse? He couldn’t help but wonder because he thought God wasn’t acting like himself.
Advent gives us an opportunity to hear the voice of Jesus and to be more aware of his presence in our lives, both individually and corporately. We need to hear his voice and listen to what he is saying to us. Then we need to start being the people Jesus is calling us to be. This does not mean that we can think of ourselves as better (much less perfect) when comparing with other people; far from it! We are called to live within his will and to do his will in our everyday lives. And as we listen and try to do his will we need to open ourselves to the presence of the Holy Spirit that we would be filled with the strength to serve Christ in our neighbour and clothed with his love that we would make the world aware of how much God loves them. In essence, we need to hear, live, act.
Why is it important to do this? Because we tend to live with the idea in the West that the world is albeit slowly getting better, day by day, day after day. But is it really? We have a lot of technology that can help with life and do things for us but does it fundamentally change who we are as people? Will we ever see the secular utopia that we think we want? The future that God is building in his realm is very different from the one that the world thinks it is coming to. Even in the Church there are great demands made for the Church to be relevant and to “get with the times”. I would rather think that the Church – if it wants to be relevant rather than reactive to the latest trend in society – needs to be what God calls it to be: His own. The Church, in order to be relevant in our current society needs to speak and to demonstrate those things that are consistent with the nature of a holy and loving community because we are in relationship with a holy and loving God. Moreover, the Church needs to be reminded that salvation is a joy to be shared with the world and not just a prize to be won.
Isn’t this why Jesus told the sent disciple to go back to John and tell him that he needs to recognize the presence the kingdom; to know his presence in the world because the blind are gaining their sight, the lame are walking upright, the lepers are being cured, the dead are being raised to life and the Good news of the growing realm of God is being made known to those who desire it and need it. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me telling him to have some patience and wait… the realm of God will come, even if it does not come in the ways and means most expect it to and on human terms.
In this moment, are you willing to continue to believe and to be the person that God has called you to be, hearing his voice, living his life, and acting according to the leading of his Spirit? Are you willing to expect the unexpected from God and live it out? Are we as a church, willing to stake our common life and work to endure for the coming of the full version of the kingdom (in essence, heaven and earth 2.0)? Come and see him who is present in us and is with us, our Immanuel. Then go and share the joy of knowing him with others. And in the going, hear, live and act like God.