Happy New Year!
… wait, what?
No, I’m not drunk. According to the church calendar, the beginning of the new year begins with the first day of Advent. And the first day of Advent was December 1st!
Are you still confused? I’ll explain. In the early life of the church (we're talking almost 2000 years ago), the Word of God was always a central aspect of worship. To the early Christians, staying rooted in God's great story was crucial to staying rooted in their relationship with God. Therefore, they created something called the "Church Calendar", organizing the major themes of God's story (redemption, sin, grace, salvation, etc.) into seasons of the year. Lent- the story of Jesus' ministry on earth and his journey to the cross- is one of those seasons you may have heard of.
Today, the Church Calender continues to help believers all over the world live out God's story each day of their lives. Advent is the start of the church calendar. It’s a 4-week season where we prepare for Jesus' coming- his birth, his coming in our own lives today, and the day where he will come again to heal and restore the whole world. This time of preparation for Christmas, the day of Jesus' birth, requires us to get in touch with who Jesus really is (not who our culture says he is) and how he wants to transform our lives.
1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Questions to Consider
- According to this passage, what makes God’s joy complete? Why do you think that is?
- Read vv. 5-11 a couple of times. Which claim about Jesus strikes you the most?
- What does this passage want us to understand about Jesus? What does this passage want us to understand about one another?
- Think of the word “humility”- how would you define it. How does Jesus define humility?
“The human soul was not made for fame.”
I heard this quote on a podcast this past week and I was convicted. Our souls were not made to be famous. All you need to do is look around Hollywood to know this is true- how many celebrities have been afflicted by sex scandals, drug & alcohol addictions, mental illness, and more? It’s very hard to find a celebrity that lives a normal life… except maybe for Chrissy Tiegen and John Legend… but even they have a household of paid staff so that they can manage the high expectations of fame and family life.
Our souls were not made for fame. So why do we so desperately want notoriety? We are too entangled in what our society says will fulfill us- a better job, a bigger paycheck, or even just the message we are assaulted with everyday: “Be true to yourself and life will work out just great.” But it’s pretty hard to be true to yourself when you’re inundated with millions of definitions for what that even is!
The only way we can find freedom is to root out all the voices around us that aren’t Christ and root ourselves in Jesus- in his life, death and resurrection.
Christ avoided fame, he regularly went against how culture told him he should behave. The only thing that defined his life was his relationship with the Father. He had no publicist, he had no agent. He was completely himself- God in human form who became nothing and gave himself up for us so that we could be free.