Economists speak much of the economic impact of Christmas. But what would be the economic impact if we used this season to realign our values with those of Jesus?
Earlier in the week I posted about preparing for peace during the Advent season. John the Baptist was the prophet chosen by God to preach repentance to Israel in anticipation of the coming Messiah. As it turn out, John was a fiery preacher who didn’t shrink back from saying what he needed to say, even calling his hearers a bunch of snakes. He is record in Luke’s gospel as saying “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” See Luke 3:1-14
What is with the bearing fruit business? It seems that maybe John is addressing an issue of giving lip service to repentance, without any real change of life – the “I’m-sorry. I-won’t-do-that-again” kind of repentance. Many of the folks in Israel had come to believe that their status as “children of Abraham”(that is People of the Covenant) were automatic guarantees of God’s favor. They perhaps went through the motions of keeping the Old Testament laws but forgot about the “weightier matters of the law” - justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
John goes on to say, “Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” John is telling Israel to getting ready for the coming of the Messiah by changing her ways, and to be the light of the world that God had called her to be. God will not accept biological relationships to the Hebrew fathers in lieu of a genuine life of obedience. When asked for specifics, John answers his hearers by telling them to share what they have with the needy, to be honest in their business dealings, and to be content. Its interesting that all the answers John gave in response to “What then shall we do?” involve a repentance from greed and a proper use of their possessions.
During this time of year when the world around us seems consumed with possessions, It might be a good idea to reconsider our priorities as Christians. The call for us during Advent is to bear fruit in keeping with our repentance of consumerism and greed. We must prepare for the coming of our Lord by ensuring that our economic values line up with those of Jesus as he taught us that we “cannot serve God and money.” As we prepare for the coming of our King, it would be appropriate to heed our King’s admonition: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
(All Scripture quotations taken from the English Standard Version )