I find it sad that we have to specifically call out a season to remind ourselves to reflect not only on Jesus but our salvation and his second coming. Do Christians really forgo doing this so often that we must collectively call out this process in order to remind Christians where their hope should be?
Pastor Tim – It’s true, Christians should be reflecting throughout the whole year, but sadly very few Christians do.
In the Old Testament, God repeatedly called the people of Israel to reflect through remembering (Joshua 4:3-7, Deut. 5:15, 24:18), and even instituted special feasts and celebrations for this very purpose (Deut. 16:3,12). This was because they were prone to walk away from the very God who rescued them from Egypt and from slavery.
The danger for the Israelites (and for us too) is actually not in the forgetting or even in a lack of reflection, but rather in a turning “everyone to his own way (Isaiah 53:6).”
This “turning” is a human condition, but we (in the West) may be even more susceptible due to the “rugged-individualism” of our church culture. You see, evangelical Christianity has done an excellent job of pointing to the fact that we are called to follow Christ as individuals, but at times done a poor job of pointing to the fact that we are called into a new community called the church.
It is within the context of this new community, that the Christian is meant to grow to fullness in Christ (Eph. 4:11-16). And if Christian growth is attempted outside of this context, then we end up with spiritually stunted or deformed Christians.
During the Month of Presentation, we give a “collective call” to the church to reflect on the second coming of Christ. This doesn’t mean that Christians can’t do this on their own throughout the course of the year (not only can they . . . they should), but rather that there’s something unique and important about doing this together.
Ultimately, if we rely only on ourselves for examination, we can come up with some faulty reflections. We either end up giving ourselves too much credit or not enough. If done with others in the church, our reflections not only become more accurate, but we even grow within the process of reflection itself as we sharpen one another (Proverbs 27:17)!
During the Month of Presentation, we try to provide our congregation with some tools that can be used to help prepare for the return of Jesus. What are some ways that your church has collectively called the congregation to reflect on their growth in Christlikeness over the past year, and prepare for Christ’s return?
One thing we do at my church is realize the actual birth date of Christ is unknown because he was not made a man to live but born to die. There is nothing more powerful on Christmas day than to read the Easter story and reinforce that although there were miracles surrounding his birth, the real miracle is that God was made man for our salvation.
I like that practice of reading the Easter story on Christmas day. It helps to give perspective at a time when it’s needed most. Thanks
Jehovah’s Witnesses will (rightly) point out that the wise men couldn’t possibly have traveled that distance in that amount of time. They actually didn’t show up until Jesus was about 3. This and many of our traditions have kept people away -However God is good, God is sovereign. Every opportunity to preach Christ is a blessing. Attitude is everything! Our brothers and sisters in the 10/40 window demonstrate this in their extreme situations. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:1-7; 2 Timothy 4:8 ESV)
Good word – Thanks Jacquelynne!
Have you seen our materials on the month of Presentation? The idea is that you should reflect on how you’ve done this year . . . have you done the word that you’ve heard? What were some challenges you experienced? What are some ways that you’ve grown? How can you improve? This is great to do in any context, but it would be even better to do within the context of your church and/or small group.