In Advent, we participate in a season of waiting. We are waiting for Christmas, and in this way we bear witness to Israel’s story of waiting for the birth of the Messiah. We are also longingly waiting on all things to be set right at the fullness of time — for the end of oppression, injustice, suffering, pain, and death!
As we long for the perfection of all things and for justice to flow like a river, our waiting provides a window into our assumptions about God and God’s action in creation. What we believe about God, especially as we wait for things to be set right in creation, informs and shapes how we pursue living faithfully in our context, and yet in seasons of waiting it is especially easy to slip into a view of God that is, for lack of a better word, sub-Christian.
It occurs to me that there are at least three ways of viewing God’s character and action in seasons of waiting that run counter to the God we meet in Jesus:
- Disengaged – God is not actively involved in creation and is just passively observing how things will play out.
- Dependent – God needs us to do something to set the stage for divine action.
- Persnickety – God is waiting for the exact right moment to act, but until then we’re on our own.
None of these is good news, friends. A Goldilocks god who needs everything to be ‘just right’ to be god isn’t God at all. A god that is disinterested or uncaring about creation isn’t God at all.
In the waiting, it is easy to slip into thinking that we are waiting on God to act, but God has acted and continues to act. The triune God’s goodness is unchanging. It is outward flowing and persistent, but it is not coercive. As we lean into the waiting, we open up space to encounter God’s goodness. In that encounter, we are joined with God in the work of setting creation right by first dwelling in Christ and allowing our hearts to be set right. From that place of encounter we are able to embody and extend Christ’s presence in the world.
Friends, we are not waiting on God to be a better God — in our waiting, we are joined with God in the ever-present, ever-patient, ever-loving approach to perfecting all things. Christ will be all in all, but as we wait for the day the Kingdom has fully come we are invited to abide in him!
In this season of Advent, may the Holy Spirit draw you into holy waiting that is defined by blessed assurance instead of anxiety over whether you can trust God. And in that waiting, may you find hope, rest, and peace that surpasses understanding.