Churches all over the world will begin their formal preparation for Christmas this weekend in what is called Advent. The word means "appearing," so you can see why getting ready for Christ's first appearing came to adopt the name. The Advent Season is one of of joy and repentance, focus inward and outward, and an emphasis upon both the first and second comings (or advents) of Jesus.
Historically, the first week of Advent begins with a study of the Second Coming of Jesus. The first and second comings are inseparably linked in the Scriptures and you cannot properly appreciate one without the other.
Much will be said and sung about Christ as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem during this time, but many miss the fact that the manger's baby was also God's Righteous Judge! It will be good for all of us to remember that God has built an accountability into life......you might say that in life, there WILL be a final exam!
The Second Coming, among other things, means that our lives will be scrutinized. Our avoidance of reality and denial of the large and small repercussions of our actions will be ended. The Judge of all the ages will render His judgment of our actions and words. We MUST live our lives with this fact in mind!
One reaction to life is to "play it safe." We can allow our fear of failure to rob us of great service to God and great accomplishments. We need not fear the view of the Great Judge, for He knows both what we've done and why we did it. We should live boldly and confidently, trusting His leadership and His grace to do His will. We must not allow fear of failure to make Christ's judgment a sad commentary on a "life poorly lived!"
"Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have." -- Louis E. Boone
As the week unfolds, ask God to empower you to live boldly and usefully in His service. Don't allow fear to paralyze you. Live in the knowledge that judgment is in the future and we do give an account. As the ancient Apostle's Creed affirms, "He will come again to judge the quick (living) and the dead!"