An Old Faith For A New Year
There is so much anticipation and preparation for Christmas that it is often not well reflected on both beforehand, and definitely not after. One might say we have an entire Advent season that build and builds, yet what happens on December 26? Our attention so quickly shifts to a new year and what new things we want to achieve or perhaps change. Yet it might behoove us, to stop and reflect just for a moment the things that we have heard, and perhaps for a (brief?) time, even meditated upon.
The Advent prepares us for the incarnation of Christ, the King of Glory and perhaps we have given attention to what the coming of our King means, that we have sinned and fallen short of His glory and are in desperate need of His saving work. Do you believe that God came in human flesh and was sent by God the Father for you? Yet does that need lessen on the 26th of December or thereafter? Of course not!
The writer of Hebrews gives great perspective not simply for Advent but for the entirety of the Christian life when he says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (10:23).” Did you hear what he said? You would think he would say “hold fast the confession of our faith”? But rather it is the confession of our hope. Those two are not separate – faith surely leads to hope, and hope encourages greater faith. But our faith is not the object of our hope, nor does hope have our faith as its object. Rather the author of Hebrews has both faith and hope focused on the same object – God – the one who has promised and is faithful. Our faith and hope are in Jesus, who came to earth in the form of man and lived a perfect life, died a sinner’s death, and was raised victorious over the grave. Our faith in this objective reality, the author of Hebrews will say in ch. 11, is the assurance of things hoped for and the certainty of things unseen (11:1,6). Though we have not seen Christ with our physical eyes, we have seen him with our spiritual eyes of faith, and that reality gives us hope at Christmas and far beyond.
Maybe you are wondering how does this fit with the beginning of a new year? Well, we are tempted to think that our confession/theology is merely a cold piece of intellectual knowledge rather than in a flesh and blood person namely Jesus Christ who directs our life. Dr. Francis Schaeffer wrote this in his book, “How Should We Then Live?”, “…the inner thoughts determine the outward action.” What we think about matters greatly in how we live. As we approach a new year let us not do so with haste that we forget the hope and joy that we have by faith in what we so recently celebrated. The Promised One of God who came to save us and secure us is the one who will also sustain us in this new year because HE is faithful…therefore let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering!