Summary: Message based on the Wesleyan Church Advent materials. Jesus came to be among us and live out a perfect life
He is Among Us
Series: Prepare the Way
December 15, 2013
When we think about the religions of the world, there is a common thread that ties most of them together. These religions are bound by the fact that humanity is constantly trying to make its way to God. Christianity is unique in the world because of the fact that God reached out to us. Advent reveals the futility of following mere religion.
Religion is a cheap substitute for relationship
The focus of religion is to follow rules and regulations for the purpose of gaining the afterlife. Christian faith finds its purpose in having a personal relationship with God. We were created for a relationship with God. Many people are trying to fill this relational void in their lives with many different things but none will ever satisfy our need for God.
Religion is constantly about the demands, not on what is done
Religion places demands on people that they must follow to gain the afterlife. There are lists of rules and regulations that have to be rigidly obeyed to gain even some hope of the afterlife. Our access to heaven is not based on the good things that we do but is based on the finished work of Christ. If we could somehow earn our way, would it still be heaven?
Religion is based in performance not grace
Religion is all about the performance of the person. The purpose of religion is to give the right circumstances for people to perform the right things to earn their place in the afterlife. The fact is that there is absolutely nothing we can do to make ourselves right in the eyes of God. God extends to us grace that sets us free from the performance trap. We do not have to do good things because Jesus desire is to make us like Him. Christianity is centered in people and not their performance.
Christianity is not religion; it is the relationship that comes because of what Christ did for us. We have faith because Christ made the decision to come and be with us. Jesus came that first Christmas to show us the way back to the relationship God desires to have with every person.
Advent means to come. The celebration of Advent centers on the coming of Christ. It is a season of revelation and God making the choice to come to us. Throughout Israel’s history God came to His people in a variety of ways and times.
God walked with Adam Eve in the Garden of Eden
God went to Noah to save the population of the world
God summoned Moses and led the people of Israel out of captivity
God raised up Judges to lead the nation in times of distress
God called prophets to be His spokesmen to the nation
God stepped into history to show Israel His grace and mercy. He brings a continual revelation of His favor toward Israel. God is in the habit of showing His love for humanity over and over again.
26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." 34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God." 38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. Luke 1:26-38 (quickview)