1 Thessalonians 1:3, 9b-10
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead-Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
Introduction: Advent is the season in which we anticipate and wait for Jesus’ return by remembering his first coming. Paul’s letters to the Thessalonian church are filled with references to Christ’s second coming, encouraging the believers to be actively waiting as they fully expected that Jesus would come back in their lifetime. Paul commends their work of faith, labor of love and endurance of hope.
Hope is the conviction that God will complete his good work in us until the day of Christ’s return, but what does Paul mean by the “endurance of hope”? The expectation of the imminent return of Christ was commonplace among the early believers. They looked forward to that day and found their great hope in the second coming of Christ.
Some 2000 years later, it can be difficult for us to live our lives with the same sort of hopeful expectation that Jesus’ return could happen at any moment. For Paul the basis of our hope is found in the resurrection, giving us confidence that Jesus will do just as he as promised. Enduring hope is not wishful thinking born from an unsure tomorrow but it is absolute certainty about our future with Christ and longing for that day to come!
Charles Wesley, younger brother of English preacher John Wesley, was a theologian himself and a prolific hymn writer. He captures this enduring hope and longing for the return of Christ in the familiar, yet simple Advent carol, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. Wesley was influenced by the poor living conditions of the orphans in the areas of the city around him and was impacted by the stark class divisions in Great Britain in the mid-1700s. Expressing a longing and enduring hope for the return of Christ who would ultimately set things right, he penned these words.
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne
Wesley intended that celebrating Advent and Christmas would not only be a commemoration of the birth of Jesus, but also a preparation for the return of Jesus. This is the enduring hope for those who actively wait for the return of Christ, a hope intimately intertwined with the first coming of his birth.
Actively waiting for the return of Jesus is fueled by the endurance of hope. This Advent season, are you living with the endurance of hope, actively singing in your heart, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”? If not, what are you waiting for?
Originally published at https://theparkforum.org.