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WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2020

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, where the Bible says,   

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.


A BATTLE OF WILLS!

The amazing proclamation of the Bible is that the person and work of Jesus in history stand as the concrete expression of the will of God the Father. Out of His love for us, He sent His Son into this sinful world to save it. Amazingly too, Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, submitted His will to that of the Father so that the world might be saved, even though his life would be sacrificed on a cross in our place. These amazing facts are proclaimed each year beginning in the seasons of Advent and Christmas where we hear of that one night long ago in a small nowhere town called Bethlehem where Christ is born of Mary who “gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger” (Luke 2:7).

So, what is the enduring message of this Christmas event? Is it merely some gentle notion of a mythological, fictitious, or idealistic goodwill toward men? Or, is it rather the Good News of God enacting His will on the world, albeit a will of service, sacrifice, unconditional love and salvation? For we who believe, it is the latter. We believe that it is God’s enacted and embodied will in Jesus Christ which calls our will to unconditional repentance before Him; it is a message which claims that eternal life can be found only in our relationship with God in and through Jesus. This message, which often seems like folly to our will, is the POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION FOR ALL WHO BELIEVE (Romans 1:16).

“Yet not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36). Those words of Jesus just before His arrest really convey the message of Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter. His mindset of service led to the message of salvation, born in the flesh in the person of Jesus, later coming to fruition in the events of His life, death and resurrection. Because of that will revealed in history once and for all, true, lasting, and eternal life became possible for a world mired in sin and death.

In fact, the message of Christmas is even more amazing if you understand the conflict that humanity has with its Creator, a real conflict of wills. The joy of Christmas gives way to the anguish of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as Christ’s “not what I will, but what You will” life is offered to God for the forgiveness of rebellious people. It alone brings pardon to the guilty and life to those who are dead in the arrogance of their prideful, sinful will.

Today, with all the chaos of the sinful “my will” world in plain sight all around us, let the Advent season of 2020 draw you to the God who willfully sent His Son into this world for people like you and me. Let that message take root in your heart through the very Word and Sacraments of the Savior who comes into the midst of our struggles so that we might be saved

“Yet not what I will, but what You will” is a call to repentance for us, but, more so, it is a call to joy, thankfulness, and a peace that passes all understanding because, as our lesson says, “this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” When you look into the manger this Christmas, don’t see some syrupy message of the brotherhood of man or the happiness of wishful thinking. See it, instead, for what it is, God demonstrating His will for the world, for you, calling you to repentance and life in Him!

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, it always seems that I’m wrestling with Your “will” for my life. Let me see clearly that Your will came to fruition in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for me. Let that be my focus in prayer, my source of joy, and my confidence in life each day. AMEN.

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