Why We Do What We Do, Including Advent
For the Pleasure of Our Greatest Treasure
We need to constantly ask ourselves the question: Why are we doing what we are doing? This is a conversation Sherry and I had recently. We need to slow down and ask why are we studying this subject? Why are we making our beds? Why are we teaching our children? Why are we preparing this sermon? Why are we taking that class? Why are we going to church? Why …?
We need to constantly reassess the reason we are doing everything is for the glory of God. We do not do things for earthly reward, but for the joy of bringing pleasure to our greatest treasure Jesus Christ. J.C. Ryle writes,
Worldliness is one of the greatest dangers that beset man's soul. It is no wonder that we find our Lord speaking strongly about it. It is an treacherous, harmful, enticing, and powerful enemy. It seems so innocent to pay close attention to our business! It seems so harmless to seek our happiness in this world, so long as we keep clear of open sins! Yet here is a rock on which many make shipwreck to all eternity. They "lay up treasure on earth," and forget to "lay up treasure in heaven." May we all remember this! Where are our hearts? What do we love best? Are our chief affections on things in earth, or things in heaven? Life or death depends on the answer we can give to these questions. If our treasure is earthly, our hearts will be earthly also. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be."1
Heaven’s cause is not that we simply get heaven, but that we get Him, the Lord Jesus Christ! As the bride’s eye is fixed on her beloved, her bridegroom’s face, so the Christian is to be fixed not on the wedding ceremony as beautiful as it is, but on Christ and the new world to come. Lynette G. Clark writes,
“The final goal, the ‘endgame’, will be when our bodies are resurrected and, together with the heavenly Bridegroom, we come with Him to a renewed earth: heaven and earth will have been joined.”2
To this the celebration of Christmas is not opposed.
In reality, the joy of Christmas is meant to foster our love for Christ, looking for a world to be renewed for the glory of God by the rule and reign of Christ. God is not a killjoy, but has richly provided us with everything for our enjoyment. Clark again writes,
“He ‘richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment’ (1 Timothy 6:17b)—but He never intended our pleasure and satisfaction in life to anchor us so forcibly to this earth and to be found only in things. God wants us to keep looking up.”3
Why do we celebrate Advent? To bring the greatest pleasure to our greatest treasure Jesus Christ—to magnify Him. The one who reigns is able to bring everything under His control, and for Him we eagerly await.4 This is Advent.
Samuel Rutherford wrote,
“When ye are come to the other side of the water, and have set down your foot on the shore to glorious eternity, and look back again to the waters and to your wearisome journey, and shall see in that clear glass of endless glory, nearer to the bottom of God's wisdom, ye shall then be forced to say, " If God had done otherwise with me than He hath done, I had never come to the enjoyment of this crown of glory."5
Joni Eareckson Tada said,
“If you should see a man shut up in a closed room, idolizing a set of lamps and rejoicing in their light, and you wished to make him truly happy, you would begin by blowing out all his lamps; and then throw open the shutters to let in the light of heaven.”6
To this Clark says,
“The Lord has given us great encouragement to help us focus our gaze upon the new heaven and the new earth and His glorious coming. But we will only look with delight and wait for the day of His return if we are not simply looking but also living for Christ.”7
J.I. Packer said,
“The quality of our unending enjoyment of Christ’s love and goodness will in some way correspond to the quality of love and devotion to Him that marks our lives now (5:10). [Paul’s] reference to knowing ‘the fear of the Lord’ (5:11) then hints at the sad possibility that slackness and irresponsibility in Christ’s service now might unfit one for the fullest fullness of heaven’s joy.”8
We are not taken up with the wrapping paper,9 but the gift of God! We are doing what we are doing for joy in the Lord Jesus Christ! When all has been said and done, our tombs may not be covered in gold and filled with spices like Egyptian monarchs, but they are testimonies to the true gold, frankincense, and myrrh found in Christ Jesus.10
Lynette G. Clark, His Treasured Possession: What Kind of People Ought We To Be? (Day One Publications) 214. I especially appreciate this picture that focuses on a renewed world. Many Christians overcorrect their view of this world with an entirely spiritual one that disregards the end-goal of God making this world entirely new. Something which I observe in Scripture actually began with Christ’s first coming.
Ibid. 221-22. emphasis mine.
Ibid., 222. From Finishing Our Course with Joy by J.I. Packer, p.90.