The Longing of Advent
The Advent season is a time of anticipating the coming of God, in Christ, a time of turning our imagination toward the revelation of God’s love for us. This after all is the deepest longing of our heart, and our natural longings always point us to something real.
We grow hungry only because there’s such a thing as food. We get thirsty only because there’s such a thing as water. We have sex drives only because there’s such a thing as sex. Human drives and desires seem to point to realities that fulfill them. If we can get philosophical for a moment, we might say that intuitive longings have ontological implications. They tell us something about the real world.
We naturally long for and hope for love that is beyond what we experience in our mundane lives, for something beyond us. During the season of Advent, we remember this longing and put our hope in the fact that God has come in Christ.
If our Creator is in fact like this—a God who came to us as a baby and then died a hellish death out of love for those who were killing him—then we can begin to understand why we are like we are. Our hope-filled dreams of love outrun anything we find in the world, and now we can understand why. We dream beyond the world because we are made for someone beyond this world. We are created by God and for God, and as Augustine said, our hearts cannot rest until they rest in God. We are created to love and be loved by a God who is, from eternity to eternity, perfect, unsurpassable, incomprehensible, infinite love.
Paul and the Gospels proclaim that, out of his unfathomable love, the God whom we restlessly long for has come into our world. In Jesus, God entered our domain to fulfill our dreams. He has come to unambiguously reveal who he is and what he is like. Against everything we’ve imagined “God” or “the gods” to be, Jesus shows us that our Creator is a God who is willing to be crucified to redeem sinners.
He has also come to reveal to us who we are. We are rebels who are nevertheless loved by our Creator with an unconditional love. And he has come to set us free from the power of evil that enslaved us and ultimately to restore the entire creation to what he always wanted it to be. He has come ultimately to extinguish the kingdom of darkness and establish the kingdom of God, in which his perfect love, joy and peace shall someday reign without opposition.
In our heart of hearts, we want to believe the story of Jesus is true, and we have compelling grounds to believe that this story is, in fact, grounded in actual history (see Lord or Legend). Of course, accepting that this story is rooted in history and placing your trust in Jesus requires faith, for it is impossible to prove any historical claim with absolute certainty. However, rejecting the story and basing your life on the assumption that the story is only a myth or a legend also takes faith, for it is equally impossible to prove this claim. I submit that the first act of faith is much more reasonable than the second act of faith.
However we live, we live by faith. The deepest longings of our hearts point us to the reality we find in the story of Jesus. Let’s reflect on this together during this Advent season.
—Adapted from Lord or Legend, pages 153-154.