How we come to someone or respond to someone can go a long way in how that situation plays out. For example, if someone is ticked off and comes at the other person really hard, the tendency is to respond hard and to push back. Of course, that doesn’t get anybody anywhere, just hard edges and hurt feelings.
But it can play out a different way. First, if someone is upset and they push really hard, if the other person can respond in a tone of gentleness and respect, there is an opportunity to diffuse the situation and allow the other upset person to calm down. It’s certainly not easy to do this and it often goes against our initial instincts, but when we make this choice, we create a space for something healthy and good to occur. The same is true in how the situation starts, if the person is upset and they react out of those feelings, maybe with sharp words or a harsh tone, the tone for how that conversation is going to work out is often set and it usually doesn’t work out well for anyone involved. But when that person is upset, if they can pause and get some perspective, often they realize that the situation isn’t worth being so upset over, and they can either let it go or calm down enough to talk in a gentle way.
Scripture is filled with these same thoughts.
Romans 12:19-20: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Matthew 5:21-24: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:43-45b: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven”
How you approach a situation can make all the difference in the world.
Then you have, Matthew 1:18-23:
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
The season of Advent and the word itself means the arrival of an important person, or especially in this case, how God comes to us. The way that God comes to us is unexpected to the say the least. When we think about all of the ways that God could come to us, as a little baby is not one of them. Especially when we remember our sin and brokenness and how we treat each other and God so often in this world. Just remember what we talked about, how it is so natural for us to come at each other with anger and hurt feelings, all yelling and sharp edges. How, so often we live in this world as if God did not exist. In a world lived like that, God could have and would have had every right to come at us in His visitation with hard edges and judgement. But that wouldn’t have accomplished God’s purposes.
John 3:16-17: ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Romans 5:8: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The goal of our Lord’s Advent was our salvation. To come to us in gentleness and mercy, as one of us, so we might know the love of God for us. Because God comes to us in this way, it is an invitation to let down our guard, soften our hearts (and let them be softened as well) and be embraced by our God’s love.
There is also a second advent, a second coming, when this part of the creation story comes to an end and God comes to His creation in judgement.
Revelation 19:11-16: “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
This second Advent is a different kind of coming. God coming in justice to end the reign of sin, death, and the Devil forever.
But for those found in Christ Jesus, there is no judgement and God does not come at us hard or with sharp edges. No, in Jesus God only comes to His people in love and mercy, like the baby born in Bethlehem.
Luke 2:10-11: And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.