Untriumphantly: No One Wants Bought Love

This last week of Advent is the week of Love!

“All you who are thirsty, come to the water!
You without money, come, buy, and eat!
Yes, come! Buy wine and milk
without money — it’s free!
Why spend money for what isn’t food,
your wages for what doesn’t satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and you will eat well,
you will enjoy the fat of the land.
Open your ears, and come to me;
listen well, and you will live —
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
the grace I assured David.
I have given him as a witness to the peoples,
a leader and lawgiver for the peoples.
You will summon a nation you do not know,
and a nation that doesn’t know you will run to you,
for the sake of Adonai your God,
the Holy One of Isra’el, who will glorify you.”

Seek Adonai while he is available,
call on him while he is still nearby.
Let the wicked person abandon his way
and the evil person his thoughts;
let him return to Adonai,
and he will have mercy on him;
let him return to our God,
for he will freely forgive.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not my ways,” says Adonai.
“As high as the sky is above the earth
are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For just as rain and snow fall from the sky
and do not return there, but water the earth,
causing it to bud and produce,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
so is my word that goes out from my mouth —
it will not return to me unfulfilled;
but it will accomplish what I intend,
and cause to succeed what I sent it to do.”

Yes, you will go out with joy,
you will be led forth in peace.
As you come, the mountains and hills
will burst out into song,
and all the trees in the countryside
will clap their hands.
Cypresses will grow in place of thorns,
myrtles will grow instead of briars.
This will bring fame to Adonai
as an eternal, imperishable sign.

Isaiah 55:1-13 (CJB)

            On Christmas morning, my children will receive more stuff than they know what to do with. They’ll be excited, ripping into festively packaged wrappings and seeing what treasures await. They might get a little annoyed to open some jeans (unless they’re over the age of 12), but for the most part, they’ll be bombarded with stuff. And all that wrapping that consumed so much time, effort, and very little talent will be placed promptly into a trash bag having barely received a glance. And all that stuff? In a week, they’ll struggle to name 3 items they received. In a year, they will probably have forgotten everything they received and will definitely not remember who gave it. Next November, we’ll be cleaning out toy bins and closets to remove last year’s stuff so we can replace it with this year’s stuff. What will they remember? Surprisingly, they’ll remember the cookies. They’ll remember the time we spent drinking hot beverages and watching Christmas movies. They may even remember some of the crafts. They’ll remember who spent the holidays with them. They won’t remember the stuff

            We all know we can’t buy the affection of children. We know that kids don’t care who bought them the most stuff—at least, not for long. They remember who was there for them, who loved them, and who spent time with them. Stuff doesn’t make a relationship. 

            Retail therapy is a habit many people in our culture deal with—me included. When stressed, what do we do? Browse the online stores… head to Target… We think we can buy our way out of feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or unloved. It never works—yet we don’t stop trying. 

            Why do we waste our money (and energy) on things that cannot satisfy? Why do we try to fill our lives with stuff? Why do we try to replace our relationships with stuff? Apparently, it is part of our bent nature. Amos 8, God tells Israel that he hates their feasts, their assemblies, and their offerings. Why? Didn’t he tell them to do those things? He told them to do those things as part of them understanding their relationship to Him. Without the relationship, what use are the worship songs? Without a relationship, what use is stuff

            Jesus, the Light of the World, comes in fulfillment of the covenant. He comes and brings us the joy and the peace we’re searching for. The Lord promised a Messiah, and He came. In Advent, we wait for that coming Messiah again. Because we know it is about Him—only He can really satisfy. Only He can bring what won’t be forgotten, what we can’t buy or earn for ourselves. In the meantime, we spend our time cultivating our relationship with Him and being changed into the kind of people who rejoice at His second coming. We become people of righteousness and justice through Him. And like the trees, we clap our hands and celebrate the coming Messiah. 

Today’s Song: Instead Of A Show by Jon Foreman

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