This season the “advent” seems more poignant than ever. Not only do many Christians celebrate the historical announcement of his birth but there is another aspect to advent that we have not tapped into, or celebrated: the metaphysical event that his advent prophesied, the advent of a birth that is to come, not what has already happened.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
–from Romans 8
I remember about 7 years ago I started asking Jesus what it meant when He said He was coming back. At that period in my life I was having massive prophetic dreams and visions about His return. I can only say I felt overwhelmed by His presence that that point in my life, in a way I had never felt before.
One of the things that I saw so deeply was how many Christians have lost a living hope in his return because they have been unable to see that HIs return encompasses far more than a date in time. His return is in ‘space’ as much as it is in time. Jesus will not only return physically, with resurrection power, and bring many others with Him, but His return is metaphysical. The Greek work in scripture that was translated ‘coming’ or second coming, is “parousia”, which means “the presence” of God. The presence of God, making himself King, returning as King, is being established on the earth. His presence is being established inside of us.
In one of my dreams, the work of his ‘return in us’ was so important and connected to his physical return. The bride asks Him to come when she is one with the spirit in saying so. He sent the Holy Spirit to pour Himself inside of people, so that He could dwell in man more fully, make us His temple, make us His coming, a new creation, His presence. His advent announces both his birth in us, and the birth of the “new” sons and daughters.
Jesus taught about His coming as a series of birth pangs as a woman is in labor. Paul spoke about creation itself groaning in the pains of childbirth. Creation and people are in labor to birth Jesus. What this means for us is, His return will not be without pain, inside of me or you. It is not something to run away from. It is not just about getting on with life. It is about letting Him be born. It is about letting us be born into His spirit more fully.
A woman experiences pains in birth and so do we as we birth Him. It is painful when He enters us. There are places in all of us that are still living in our “old creation”. There are places, whether because of wounds, or circumstances, or just our plain old sin nature, that shut God out. He once showed me that “purity” means oneness. God is one, so He is pure. No part of Him is divided. But we all have parts that are divided, that he is trying to make one. We have parts that He has transformed, and parts that we are blind, stubborn and closed-off to His voice. When He enters these parts of us, we are unfamiliar with him there, we can’t recognize his voice there because we only recognize lies. It is painful for the purity of who He is to be birthed in a space that is cramped and dark.
This is why Jesus also said, the kingdom suffers violence upon its entry. The purity of His kingdom and His being, suffers atmospheric violence when it enters the thin polluted air of our old man, of the world. It suffers birth contractions to enter us. It hurts when He starts going after roots of our sinfulness and wounds. It’s painful when He starts tilling up this ground. It’s painful to let Him enter.
The contractions are also the body’s attempt to keep things moving, and we have a father who is standing beside us saying, Breathe, breathe. This past year I saw one of the great contractions coming on Christians, on the body of Christ. There will be times of contractions and times of rest, just as in birth, until He has birthed His son fully in His people. Until the whole world can see the light of Him, His personality and His kingdom. It was not a time to ignore this, but to let Him transform each one of us individually.
It would be a painful time. Some people would get off the train because they couldn’t handle how fast and bumpy it was moving, how shaky it was. Some would blame others for their pain. Some would experience the heights of loneliness. Some would try to fix others’ pain as a way of ignoring their own. Some would get overwhelmed by the work. And all of us would need grace. The worse thing to experience right now is self-judgment, perfectionism or inadequacy. And still, I watched the Father’s firm hand tilling the soil for His return, tilling up old weeds and dead seeds, tilling up tangled roots, wounds of anger, rejection, abuse, depression, grief. Tilling them up until they were visible and they could be worked on. We were becoming more inhabitable.
In spite of how painful this is, it is a season to celebrate His advent inside of us! He has announced His birth, His second birth, over and over again, through the prophets. He will birth His presence inside of us. Let’s celebrate His parousia! His return in us!
I pray that we are able to let Him complete His work in us this season, what He is doing inside of me and you, so that more of His light will be shining in our bodies, our minds, our hearts, our spirits. That we would trust His hand and the painful things He brings up, the overwhelming challenges, the and let Him advent Himself!
And I pray that we would keep our eyes on the Father, who loved us so much that He births His only son in us. He is standing beside us, his hands are on our hearts. He is closer than ever, just as a new dad waits with joy in the hospital to see his baby! Can you imagine the day Jesus was born, what the Father felt? I’m sure all of you fathers know…. but He has so much joy!!!! in us, in what he is doing.
Merry Christmas everyone!