'Making Room for Preparation'
For the duration—and, we trust, beyond—of this Infinitum Christmas Series, we want to be postured for God to accomplish His purposes in and through us. And during this first week, we are focusing on creating and inhabiting space for awe. And we are embedding ourselves in the Gospel according to Luke, chapters 1 and 2, for the whole plan.
This first week is one of preparation. And we look to Zechariah and Elizabeth for inspiration on this topic. We’re struck immediately, by their example as summarized in 1:6 (NIV) – “Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.”
Now, look, we’ll stipulate at the start that this couple lived under a different covenant than we do. They were swamped with 613 laws to try to follow in order to, somehow, be righteous. They were stuck firmly in Romans 7, good Jews, attempting to please God by doing the right thing, but entirely in their own power.
In contrast, here we are, under a new covenant, with Jesus, and no longer burdened by 613, meant to be living firmly in Romans 8. In fact, Jesus, in one conversation, set aside 611 rules, in effect rendering them obsolete, or, at least redundant. And He leaves us with only two (which are in some ways, really two sides of only one):
Mark 12: 28-31 (NIV) One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked Him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’
29 ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” 31 The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’ (see also Luke 10:25-28)
So, if we’re to emulate Zechariah and Elizabeth in this regard, we’re merely to love God and love others. Are you up for that?
Yes, ‘love’ can be a squishy word. But in Greek, the word isn’t squishy or fuzzy at all. Here is the Helps Word study definition: “agapáō—properly, to prefer, to love; for the believer, preferring to "live through Christ" (1 Jn 4:9,10), i.e. embracing God's will (choosing His choices) and obeying them through His power.” So, prefer God, and prefer others.
In practice? That looks like practicing centering God instead of ourselves. And practicing opening ourselves to others instead of only ourselves. Let’s pray that preparatory posture into being as we kick off the Infinitum Christmas:
Lord, I’m sorry for choosing me over and above everyone else including you. Please forgive me. I prefer You. And I'm open to the others. Help me to change my posture in life, please. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.