category: Advent

Advent Reflection: Day 25

Wednesday, December 22

Micah 4:1–5; Ephesians 2:11–22

It feels good to win, even if the win comes vicariously through our favorite sports team, political party, or faith-tradition. Wins feel especially great when we’ve been waiting a long time for one. Nothing compares to the thrill of knowing that you’re aligned with winners, those who are the strongest, the smartest, or have God on their side. It’s only natural we feel this way. Our entire history as humans is one of competing for territory and resources. It’s a primitive drive, one that pervades every facet of our lives in one way or another, for better or worse. Perhaps it goes from better to worse as our competitive drive moves from games of sport to politics to religion. There may be no more intoxicating wins than the ones we believe God has given us. If the creator of the universe recognizes our worth and blesses it, it becomes the ultimate “told-you-so” moment. And who doesn’t like those? If God be for us, then who can be against us? The power that comes from being on God’s side, as great as it feels, is problematic. If one is on God’s side, that means someone else is not: typically the losers. One undeniable reality of human history is that our faith often becomes the breeding ground for feelings of supremacy, most notably acted out across racial and ethnic differences.

The stories of the Israelites and the early church are rich in instances of this dynamic playing out. Sometimes as winners, sometimes as losers, the people who claimed to be the people of God seem preoccupied with the desire to see God vindicate them. Whether by war or by wealth, we want God to set the record straight in front of our enemies. “Vengeance and victory!” we cry. Somehow, though, we seem to disregard another way of being human found in the pages of our story as God’s people. Rather than clamoring to the top of the winner’s podium for ourselves, God has been calling us to a way that transcends our human systems of hierarchies of dominance. We shall not sit at the top as winners over our enemies, but God, who is Love, will. God’s victory looks like us laying down our weapons, tearing down our defenses, and relying on God’s supremacy rather than imagining it for ourselves. “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14 NIV). While the matrix of our evolving world might force us to compete in order to survive and thrive, let us not be drunk on our own pursuits. Instead, let us see our higher calling as God’s children: to testify of another matrix, another kingdom, one in which there is no “us and them.” One in which Love wins. One in which we all win. May that be our enduring prayer and way of life as we await the fullness of God’s peace on earth.

Daniel Rushing
School of Divinity Graduate

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Advent Reflection: Day 26

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