Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Christmastime is a season of anticipation. As a kid, I anticipated the arrival of Christmas on account of the lights, the fun, and the presents. But I’ve come to realize that the Christmas season is a time of anticipation and preparation. Whether buying presents or observing Advent, I am making preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth.
Christmas marks the first coming of the Savior, but believers now anticipate the Second Coming of the Savior. Paul reminds believers that our ultimate salvation, the return of Christ for his people, will happen soon. The Light of the world is coming again to make his home among us! And as we anticipate the Second Coming, we are to prepare for his return. During the Christmas season, we prepare to host friends and family. We clean house, bake, and decorate — all in anticipation of their arrival. Similarly, we prepare to welcome Christ through our loving obedience: we abandon the darkness of self-gratifying ways of living to love Christ. We love Christ because He first loved us, and it is only Christ’s love that edges out the allure of sin and darkness in our hearts. We love Christ — or as Paul puts it, we put him on — by obeying his commands.
Our Decembers quickly become consumed with getting ready for Christmas Day. There’s hardly time for anything else in the flurry of those preparations! In the same way, loving Christ is all-consuming. Our lives are to be so oriented towards Christ’s Second Coming, that our hearts can only be filled with Christ’s love. This Christmas season, may our hearts be full of that love as we celebrate the Christ child and prepare for his Second Coming.
Emily McCarty is a visiting assistant professor of philosophy at Hope College.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.