December 13, 2018

Advent 2018

"The Better Way"


The idea of "glorious expectations" is probably embedded in our human DNA.  Of all the cultures and civilizations I studied and taught about during my career as a history teacher, there was none that did not have people or movements that aspired for excellence-- whether it was for material or spiritual improvement.  Great philosophical and religious figures, political and military leaders all sought more of what they considered the highest good for themselves and others.


Implicit in the idea of improvement is change for the better.  Parents try to rear their children to become successful adults.  Teachers try to educate their students to become knowledgeable.  Coaches train their players to become better athletes and team players so they can win championships.  Ministers preach and teach and lead their congregations to become better Christians.  Statesmen and some politicians want to improve the lot of their constituents economically and socially.


All these have faced opposition, however.  Perhaps that is another part of our psychological DNA:  to resist being led or forced to accept change.  Has there ever been a parent, teacher, coach, minister, or politician who has not found reluctance, if not outright rebellion, against what they were trying to achieve?


What is needed, of course, is a way to inspire those who are the targets of changes to want to improve, to see the value of attaining the ultimate goal and be willing to strive toward it.  The history of the world has seen many examples of such great leaders who have achieved great goals of excellence for themselves and others.  For Christians, Jesus the Messiah is the one who set forth God's ultimate plan for our redemption and inspired his followers.  Among the Jews who heard him teach and witnessed how he acted toward others, Jesus seemed to be a reincarnation of Moses or Elijah--until some of them recognized that he was God's Chosen One.


To be sure, the two millennia since Jesus walked the earth have not always been glorious.  Some misguided Christians, who did not fully understand what Jesus was teaching, said, wrote, and did things that we now know to be wrong.  Many of the problems facing us and the world today are the result.  We do not have to go far back in history to find evidence of that; indeed, we know from our own experience what have been the consequences of those mistakes.


Nevertheless we know that there is a better way and that finding out that way and following it diligently can lead us toward the true light.  We can have glorious expectations in our own lives, in our church, city, state, country, and world, because Jesus showed us that way.  With inspired leadership and a determination to work to achieve it, the hope that Christmas brings should make us hopeful for the future.

-- George Pruden


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