This Advent we’ll explore the theme How Do We Live Between Promise and Fulfillment?
As we think about living between promise and fulfillment, it might help to clarify the promise(s) we’re talking about. What are the promises of the Christian faith? What are we to hope for? What should we be expecting from God, from this spiritual journey, and from ourselves?
These are not simple questions. In terms of official church doctrine, we’re not always clear about what God has promised us—as opposed to what culture, even religious culture, would have us expect. For instance, there are many Christians who expect God to take away their problems; yet, the heroes of our faith did not become heroes by God eliminating their problems. They became heroes by living through difficult times and grappling—in faith—with their problems.
Other groups within the Christian family believe that God promises health and wealth. But that position doesn’t show much respect for the poor and the ill. In fact, if we believe that God has promised perfect health and lots of money, then we’re more likely to equate illness and poverty with a lack of faith or God’s disapproval. We buy into the idea that if a person is poor, she somehow deserves it. Jesus certainly doesn’t take that view in the Gospel accounts—and saints throughout history have honored the poor and cared for the ill rather than judged them for their situations.
What are the promises of the Christian faith? Where do we learn of them? And which ones are most important to us?
I’d love to hear from you about the promises.
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