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Advent 2016 Devotional—December 10th

Advent 2016 Devotional—December 10th

“Good News For All The People”—Daily Reflections for Advent 2016

THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, December 10th

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.
Ephesians 1:3-8

My friend, Henry Rojas, is an insightful retreat leader and spiritual director who likes to remind people that the good news is not that you might not go to Hell, but, rather, that you’re included in God’s love. Today’s Scripture is all about being included in His love! Like one lover to another, God is saying in this text, “You were always meant for me!”

Before time and space – “before the creation of the world” – God settled His love on us. We didn’t have to do a thing to get God to love us. God, whose very nature is love (1 John 4:8), wanted to include us in the eternal communion of love, joy, and bliss that is the life of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus came down to us at Christmas eager to share His very life with us. Theologian C. Baxter Kruger traces out God’s eternal purpose to include us:

The Christian vision of God is of a God who is eager to know us, eager to cross the infinite chasm between the Creator and the creature, and eager to stoop down to us and lift us up so that we can share in everything that He is and has…The Christian God is interested in relationship with us, and not just relationship, but union, and not just union, but such a union that everything He is and has – all glory and fullness, all joy and beauty and unbridled life – is to be shared with us and to become as much ours as it is His. (Jesus and the Undoing of Adam)

Note in today’s text that it is through Jesus Christ we are transported into another world, included in God’s life and love. The phrase “in Christ” and its close variant are repeated throughout the text:

  • “blessed us in Christ”
  • “chose us in Christ”
  • “destined us for adoption through Jesus Christ”
  • “his glorious grace freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” 
  • “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses”

There is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ we are included in the very life and presence of God.

Notice also the emphasis on “us” in this text. God has blessed us in Christ. He chose us in Christ. He destined us for adoption as His children. He freely bestowed grace on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption and forgiveness according to the riches of His grace bestowed on us.

God does all of this for us, “according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.” God “lavishes” unmerited, undeserved, unearned grace on us! This is the best news of all! Look up “lavish” in your dictionary. It means, extravagant, over generous, unsparing, in great amounts, without limits. All of this is what God has done for us “in Christ”! We are included in His love, not because of what we have done, but in spite of what we have done. It is not for who we are, but who God is.

In May of 1518, Martin Luther said to a group of monks in Heidelberg: “The law says, ‘Do this’, and it is never done. Grace says, ‘Believe this’, and everything is done.”

Christ has done it! Believe the good news of great joy for all the people! You’re included!

PONDERINGS

  • What does it mean for you that God loved you “before the foundation of the world”?
  • Why is it that all of our blessings come to us “in Christ”?

THE DAILY GOD HUNT: Reflect on where you found God today.

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