My brother is three years older than me and roughly a million times smarter. I remember one time when I was about ten he tried to explain to me that whenever two objects collide, they both exert equal force. (Caveat: if any of the science is wrong in the dialogue below, I’m quite sure it’s because I am misremembering and not because my brother didn’t know what he was talking about. In my defense, this conversation happened 30 years ago and, sadly, I’m not any better at science now than I was then. Matt, feel free to correct my physics.)
Me: So if I run into this wall…it also runs into me?
Matt: Yeah, it pushes back just as hard as you push it.
Me: But the wall can’t move.
Matt: It doesn’t move, but it does push back…that’s why it hurts to run into a wall.
Me: That doesn’t make any sense at all. Walls don’t push, they sit there.
Matt: It might look like it, but actually, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction.
Walls don’t push, they sit there. Is that true or not? Do walls push back? In real life is nothing actually as simple as cause and effect? Is it always some kind of synergistic cause produces effect which pushes back and influences cause which produces yet a different effect and on and on? The ripples going out from the dropped pebble don’t take long before they’re returning back to the point of impact and influencing all the subsequent ripples. In other words: Effect becomes Cause. Always? Always.
Who cares? If effect becomes cause, then consider the implications of that in a culture that appears committed to exalting that which is petty and ignoring that which is of ultimate importance. How many times will you smash into the cultural wall of superficiality before it starts to mangle and distort your own soul? Would you notice if it did? How?
Advent functions as a perfect example of this phenomenon. Everywhere you go this month you’ll see people excitedly getting ready. Ready for what? I don’t know. They don’t even know. Ask them. Ask them what they’re preparing for. Ask them what advent means. See if they know what they’re celebrating.
And then, before you get smug, ask yourself. What does advent mean? What are you preparing for? What’s the significance of this season for you? Are you pursuing and receiving all the blessing that God has for you and your family during this special season? Does this season cause you to purposefully meditate upon the glorious mystery of the incarnation?
Or have you been knocked senseless by the wall of our culture to the point where the incarnation has become a footnote and there’s no real meditating going on at all. At the end of this season will you feel closer than ever to Jesus? Or will you just feel bloated and exhausted and little more cynical?
You are surrounded by people who are “observing” advent in all the wrong ways. Looking inward and in some cases outward but not upward. Don’t be unduly influenced by that. I would suggest that you use this season to meditate on the two most important events in the history of the world: the first coming and the second coming.
More on that next time.
In the meantime, have a blessed Advent.