Advent Devotional: Encourage One Another With These Words

The music in the arena pulsed so powerfully that it made my chest vibrate.  Kevin and sat on the floor in an empty row in the back, waiting as volunteers to “spring into action” when the headlining band, For King and Country, began singing the song that would serve as our cue.  We sat among a scattering of other volunteers, all smiling briefly at each other in acknowledgment of our mutual purpose and a bit of shared knowledge yet to be revealed to the rest in the room.  Of course, at this point, For King and Country had yet to even take the stage.  The band had not one but three opening acts, graduating in notoriety until the main event.  I scanned the crowd and noticed varying degrees of investment on the part of those waiting. Some of the audience stood, engaged with the supporting artists, singing and entirely responsive.  Others sat and thumbed their phones, looking no different than they would if waiting, say, at the DMV. Others chatted with friends and moved in and out of the rows getting drinks or buying merchandise.

Finally, just before their last song, the final supporting artist, shouted, “Are you ready for For King and Country?

We cheered.  I looked around:  the question had snagged everyone’s attention.  People outside their seats began to move more quickly to get into place.  Others stuffed their phones in their pockets and stood on their feet. Conversations ceased as we all turned our attention toward the stage.  And this happened even though we knew that this act had one more song; even though, predictably, it would take still a few moments more for the stagehands to set the stage.  Just the suggestion that the moment we waited upon was coming very soon without delay excited us and moved us to prepare and focus our attention. And it made me wonder: Do we wait less urgently upon Jesus because we often fail to heed Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5, when he urges us to “encourage one another with these words (4:18; 5:11)” about the return of King Jesus?

In this section of scripture, Paul urges us not to grieve like those who have no hope (4:13), because not only will our Lord return, but those who have died in Him before that day will arise first (4:16).  All of the Christ-following loved ones we’ve lost, all the ones we miss especially during Advent, will appear with Christ. Maybe, depending on the day, some of the rest of us now living in Christ will appear with them.  So maybe we grieve them now, but we do so with hope in the advent of Jesus. For those in Christ, this long anticipated day, our “main event,” will come not as a thief but with great celebration, because we have received salvation through Christ.  In the meantime, whatever influence we have has been given us that we might point the way to Jesus. He’s the headliner, and we merely His supporting artists. It’s our job to joyfully shout out, “Are you ready for Jesus?” Of course, we could ask that question with so many attitudes, but the tone that stops people in their tracks and draws them out of their disinterest is the one that conveys the truth that Jesus is the best of everything, the One for whom we’ve been waiting, the only One worthy of glory.  During Advent, let’s take advantage of a season when even more people have come to wander around in our arena, and encourage one another with these words of hope.

Jesus is coming soon.  Hallelujah!

You are loved!