The Advent season is upon us. Historically, Christians have spent the four weeks leading up to Christmas both celebrating Christ’s birth and eagerly anticipating his second coming. Can you think of anything more incredible than Jesus coming to usher in his eternal kingdom? All the events of 2020 have me longing for that kingdom.
Alongside the cross and resurrection of Jesus, his second coming will be for Christians the greatest event in human history. At that time, we will have more to rejoice about than any blessing experienced this side of heaven.
Think about the moments in your life that produced the greatest joy. Maybe it was your wedding day; perhaps it was the moment you welcomed your child into the world or the time you reconciled with a parent or friend. For some, that moment came during a graduation or the season they moved their family to a new city to experience the thrill of adventure and hope of new beginnings. Whatever moment comes to mind for you, it will not hold a candle to the joy we will experience when we meet our Lord and Savior in the new kingdom.
We will literally live for eternity praising and worshipping our God. I hope that doesn’t sound boring to you. If it does, consider this: we will busy ourselves with the creation of Christ-exalting art, culture, and industry. None of our agendas will be tainted with envy or other sins. The works of our hands will be a reflection of the praise in our hearts. Our gratitude for the redemptive work of the Lamb will be on display through our every word, thought, and deed. It will be a time of true bliss, and our experience of it will never end.
When we arrive in the consummated kingdom of God, all our good desires that were never fully satisfied or realized on this earth will be experienced in high definition. I have mountain ranges I long to traverse which may never transpire in my fleeting life. But on the new earth, I’m going to be an avid mountain climber. I’m going to bring all my friends who were paralyzed by fear or debilitated by a health condition to the top of a fourteener. When we arrive, we are going to fall on our knees in glorious tears as we worship king Jesus.
These glorious, eternal moments are promised to every believer. Although this advent season is a great time for us to prepare our hearts for eternity, many things will try to distract us and steal our joy if we don’t fight to protect it.
I can list many things that have robbed me of joy over the years — things that have no place in God’s kingdom. For the sake of time, I’ll mention two that anyone serious about their joy should be on guard against.
Consumerism could be defined as accumulating material possessions for the sake of happiness or wellbeing. It’s an endless cycle of purchasing that many people participate in during the holiday season. Attempting to find our ultimate joy in created things always ends poorly, because the deepest longings of our hearts can only be satisfied in Christ. As Timothy Keller has helpfully explained, “If we look to some created thing to give us the meaning, hope, and happiness that only God himself can give, it will eventually fail to deliver and break our hearts.” Sadly, many hearts are going to be broken this Advent season.
The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines envy as “a feeling of displeasure and ill will because of another’s advantages or possessions.” It is a real problem in the heart of humanity. Jesus was led to the cross because of the envy of religious people (Matthew 27:18). Jesus and Paul both list envy as one of the worst sins imaginable (Mark 7:22; Romans 1:29; Galatians 5:21). It will wreck the joy of thousands upon thousands this Advent season. It’s subtle influence will lead many down a path so destructive that God’s grace will be the only thing able to overcome it.
Christians are in the best position to experience explosive joy this season. We have the hope of eternity and the loving care of God on our side. Not only can we experience this joy today, but we can share it with those we encounter. I cannot think of a better gift to give someone than the message of Jesus pardoning their sin and inviting them into an eternal kingdom. Many of the people around us will spend themselves this holiday season trying to manufacture joy or buy it on Amazon. Honestly, it’s exhausting.
Jesus is the joy we are all longing for. His offer is otherworldly. He says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Can you imagine what sweet rest Jesus has in store for us? We can stop trying to produce something that will not last because we personally know love that will last forever. Furthermore, our kingdom endeavors will not feel burdensome like the work we employ today. The Christ-exalting work that is ahead of us will feel oddly like rest. It will produce true and lasting joy.
Protect your joy this Advent season, friends, and share it with others.