Advent: Day 20 – Friday, December 22, 2023

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Titus 2:11–14

There is a certain paradox in the Christian life that this brief passage from Paul’s letter to Titus throws into stark relief. It is that the Christian life is marked simultaneously by waiting and zealous action.

The grace of God has appeared in his incarnate Word and will appear again. For this we wait. And if our generation goes anything like the last hundred or so generations in human history, we will likely wait our entire lives. I hope you brought a magazine.

Actually, I hope you didn’t. Because in our waiting, Paul tells us, our call is not to kill time but to make the most of it (Ephesians 5:16); we are to be “zealous for good works.” Now this is a strange thing. What normally happens when we interact with a person who is waiting for something they really want? Talk to them. (Their mind is elsewhere.) Invite them out. (No, they’re… busy.) Change the subject. (What? No, sorry, they’re not listening, could you say that again?) Such a person is not present, but rather distracted. Life is on hold.

Waiting for Christ, though, produces the opposite effect. Christ has redeemed and purified a people for himself who pour themselves out for the life of the world. With zeal, friends. There’s nothing perfunctory about Christian discipleship. Of course, good works look different from disciple to disciple: some write elegant code, some diligently clean houses, some pray quietly for the world’s salvation. But none regard this earthly life as simply a decades-long waiting room to be endured before the main event.

“For You I wait all the day,” says the psalmist. Perhaps the essence of waiting for God is not so much inactivity as it is a change in our horizon, a relativizing of the things we thought this life was about. I thought I was waiting for my first car. My first job. My wedding. My first child. My retirement. (I may be glossing over all the naughty things that the Cretans surrounding Titus were waiting for, but the point still stands). But actually, all of these things were always secondary. I was waiting, I am waiting, and as long as I have breath I will always be waiting for “our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Dr. Joshua Kraut is an associate professor of French 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.

Subscribe to daily Advent emails

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *