Saturday, December 15, 2001
Philippians 3:1-11, Luke 11:42
Paul teaches two lessons in the selected verses for today. His prologue says "It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you." By that, he meant that review and repetition were needed in the early days of Christianity to "safeguard" the new moral and theological concepts that Jesus taught. Thousands of years of Jewish teaching and tradition had set forth the rules, only now to have a new twist. Today, we, just as the early Christians, need to "safeguard" our beliefs and actions through repetition as we make the corrections needed to live a righteous life acceptable by God.
In the main passage, Paul continues to teach that Jesus brought a "New Covenant" for man to keep with God. Paul addresses circumcision as an example of the "old covenant" God had with Abraham, symbolizing a separation of Jews as God's chosen people from the pagan-worshiping Gentiles. Along the way, however, more emphasis was placed on obedience to the law through "works" rather than the love for and faith in God.
The prophets foretold in Isaiah 56:3-8 God's acceptance of foreigners and Eunuchs, but the Pharisees chose to overlook the acceptance of all people who accept God's blessings. John the Baptist taught in Luke 3:7-8 that mankind should prepare for the coming of Christ by committing to Christ on his own accord and not through family ties.
The birth of Jesus Christ as the Messiah was the beginning of a "New Covenant" with God; not one of righteousness through compliance with the law only, but righteousness by faith in God as delivered through Jesus Christ. As taught by Jesus in his ministry, true faith results in deeds, but deeds alone do not justify our faith. Faith brings us salvation and active obedience demonstrates genuine faith.
As we celebrate this Advent anticipating the coming of Jesus Christ, let us remember that the rituals, traditions and good works we perform are part of our personal love of God, not for presentation to other people or in an effort to achieve the love of God.
Prayer: Merciful and gracious Father God, we admit that we sometimes lose our purpose. We admit that we even omit You from our daily lives. It is only through Your grace in sending Your Son that our lives can be spared. We ask that You forgive us and help us as we strive to focus on obtaining righteousness through Your desires and the teachings of our Messiah, Jesus Christ. In his name, we ask Your blessing. Amen.