by Abraham Cremeens
As we continue in this Advent season, our focus this week has been on the important topic of faith. A growing faith is essential for a healthy Christian life, yet at times our “faith-o-meter” can seem quite low. Doubt has a way of creeping into our hearts as we navigate life. Let me ask you a few questions on the topic:
- How strong is your faith today?
- Are you barely holding on or is your grip firm with the security of God’s power and presence?
- When it comes to faith, do you focus more on the gravity of the circumstances you face or on the power of God over those circumstances?
These questions are important to reflect on and yet, if you are not careful, your answers may lead you to simply trying harder to grow stronger in faith. That would be a wrong response, though. Faith is a gift from God by his grace that grows as you see him more clearly. It is not something you muster on your own. Your faith doesn’t grow by trying harder but by a persistent focus on God as he really is.
This is one of the beauties of the incarnation. God didn’t have to include all of the details of Advent. The rest of Scripture would have contained sufficient truth to know God and follow him. However, the angelic pronouncements, the virgin birth, and the orchestration of world events all point us to the wealth of revelation about who God really is and all that he can do. As you see him with greater clarity, you gain a more accurate perspective of his majesty, greatness, and glory. And your faith in him grows as a result.
The invitation this Christmas season, then, is to actively pursue a clearer understanding of the nature of God—because your faith is dependent on your view of God. Yet, at the risk of sounding like Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas time can be the hardest season of the year to actually focus on Jesus. (That sounds very strange to say!) Don’t get me wrong: Christmas music, parades, parties, gift exchanges, and plenty of snow are certainly enjoyable. But if you are not careful, these pleasures will crowd out the greatest privilege of the season: seeing and celebrating Jesus Christ. With a few intentional steps, though, you can invest in a growing faith this Christmas season as you focus on Christ.
Here are some practical ways I’ve heard of families and individuals turning their gaze on Jesus during Advent. While they are simple, that doesn’t mean they don’t help in remarkable ways.
- Purchase Christmas tree ornaments and write one name of God on each. Take one ornament a day and discuss the name or attribute in an attitude of worship.
- Place a Nativity scene on a dresser or table. Read a portion of Scripture related to Advent as you place Joseph and Mary, Jesus, the shepherds, and wise men in their place. Discuss or journal what you learn about God from the Incarnation.
- Sing a verse from a hymn or song that is focused on Christ’s birth. You may even take some time to look up Scripture related to specific lines or phrases of the song.
- Several devotionals or books exist on the topic of the Incarnation of Jesus. Consider reading through one.
These are a few examples that you can embed in your normal rhythms of life this season. Any of these could become part of your morning or evening routine. You could include them in a meal with family or friends. The idea is to make an active pursuit of the knowledge of God a key part of this Christmas season. Seize each day as an opportunity to see him more clearly for who he is so that your heart will trust him more.