Are Our Hearts Ready for Advent?

The scene in John 19 puts things into perspective, as far as the state of the hearts of the people who were there, and should be a cautionary tale for us as well.

Concerned about their own power and position, the religious leaders wanted Jesus to be crucified. They brought Him before Pilate. Although Pilate didn’t see a basis for charge against Him, he was weak and he didn’t stand up and say “no” when he felt the religious leaders were wrong.

The religious leaders and their followers continued to cry out for Jesus to be crucified. They said it was because Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.

“The Jewish leaders insisted, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.’” John 19:7 NIV

This made Pilate afraid. It should have made the religious leaders afraid. They should have done more research. They had been waiting for a long time for their King to return. But they had become comfortable. They became entrenched in their abuse of power and self-proclaimed righteousness.

Between John the Baptist and Jesus, there should have been some real soul-searching going on. But unfortunately, there wasn’t…

“From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, ‘If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.’” John 19:12 NIV

Why would Pilate want Jesus free, and the religious leaders want Him crucified? A few verses later we get a much clearer understanding of the status of their heart.

“But they shouted, ‘Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!’ ‘Shall I crucify your king?’ Pilate asked. ‘We have no king but Caesar, the chief priests answered.” John 19:15 NIV

We have no king but Caesar!

They want Jesus crucified because He called Himself the Son of God, yet they said that they said that they had no king but Caesar, who considered himself God. Why didn’t they say they had no king but God?

They changed their allegiance from God to Caesar, who had given them a comfortable enough living. Things were good for them. Why rock the boat? Isn’t it better for one man to suffer so that they can keep their comforts? They might do the bare minimum that the Old Testament required, but their hearts no longer belonged to God.

Their king shifted from God to Caesar. I wonder how many self-proclaimed Christians have shifted their allegiance from their King, Jesus, to the political powers of the day. For some (on both sides of the political aisle), I can’t help but believe that they have shifted from God to someone else, to something else. Maybe it’s not a political party, maybe it’s their business… or something beyond that.

Our government provides for us, or our business provides for us. Our doctors take care of us. We find our peace in _________? I think we see our allegiances clearly in our finances and our time commitments.

Financially, we give 30-40% (or more) to the government, and how much do we give back to God? Why is it that statistically the more people make, the less (percentage wise) they give back to God? And we have plenty of things that require our time, but where is our Sabbath (in a sense a tithe of our time)?

Cents on the dollar…

We give God cents on the dollar of money which He had provided for us (through the government or by the skills, abilities, and opportunities He has given us), and we give Him a couple of percent of our weekly time (a 2 hour service and an hour of prayer is not even 2% of our week time-wise).

The New Testament has given us freedom, but it is freedom in love to go beyond the basic commitments that the Old Testament laid out. We (myself included) get so caught up in what is going on around us, in the here and now, that we can lose sight of who we really are, and who we are following. We think of ourselves and our needs, and lose sight of the One who provides and should be our priority. Have we become like the religious leaders of old?

Who is our king?

We have no king but… Let’s examine our lives, and see who really has our allegiance. Let’s look at our time, and our finances, and see who really is the king of our lives.

We are coming up on the holidays. These are times when we often self-indulge, whether it is food or gifts. Isn’t it interesting that we have Black Friday, then Cyber Monday, followed by Giving Tuesday? If we have anything left by Tuesday, let’s send those crumbs somewhere. Can we make this year different? Can we put God first, whether it is our time, our talent, or our treasure? May this Thanksgiving and Advent season be one where we really make God the greatest priority in all aspects of our lives!

Lord, if we are honest, this is a challenge. In this country, we have become comfortable. We, like sheep, lose our focus and follow after the shiny things. We don’t make Your priorities our priorities. So often we give You our leftovers. Help us to change that. Not when we have “x” amount in the bank, or when we retire and have more time for You (more time will never come). Help us to make You the focus of our lives, in time, talent, and treasure. Not because we have to, but because we get to. As an act of love to You. We pray, in Jesus’ glorious name…

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