By Leonard Lauriault
At noon, this Friday marks the halfway point between Thanksgiving and Christmas. While we’ve been fairly successful at calibrating our children to not ask, “Are we there yet?” on car rides, our younger child, who has a typically underdeveloped sense of time and patience, is wanting to know when Christmas will get here.
Anyway, the halfway concept brought a couple of things to mind regarding our Christian life.
First, I’m reminded that I’m not ready for Christmas yet because I’m only half done with my shopping. It’s good that I only have to buy for one person and don’t tell her I’m only half done because if I don’t get the other half I intend to buy, she won’t miss it. When it comes to God, I could find only one place in the Bible indicating he would accept only half of something – the half-shekel temple tax (Exodus 30:11-16). Even Jesus had to pay that and he used his own money as opposed to relying on his supportive traveling companions (Matthew 17:24-27; Luke 8:1-3; Psalm 24:1-2).
The temple tax was an Old Testament (Law/Covenant) requirement and, even though it was called a half-shekel, the entire amount had to be paid. Now, under the New Covenant, God wants us as living sacrifices/offerings and he won’t settle for anything less than the whole person (Romans 12:1-2; Mark 12:28-33). This concept of whole-personness is a carryover from the Old Testament law and God is still a jealous God who won’t share us with any other god (Exodus 20:1-6; Matthew 6:24; Romans 6:3-18; Revelation 3:14-16). Thinking we can get by with having one foot in the church and one in the world is about as deluded as those taking a block of wood and using half to cook their meal and then warm themselves from that fire as they made an idol from the other half (Isaiah 44:6-20). God easily recognizes half-baked Christianity.
Regarding the upcoming Christmas holiday and the point that we’ll soon be halfway there from having celebrated Thanksgiving, there’s some encouragement from the fact that the wait is half behind us. Considering the gift of salvation God is keeping for us in heaven, Paul mentioned that our salvation is nearer now than it has ever been before and our behavior should reflect that (1 Peter 1:3-9; Romans 13:11-14; 2 Peter 3:8-15).
That being said, we’re on an eternal time line (sort of like kids waiting for Christmas) that runs both to the past and to the future. Sometime between now and the future eternity, Jesus will come back bringing our salvation with him (Hebrews 9:27-28). Christians are appropriately impatient regarding Jesus’ return (2 Timothy 4:6-8; Revelation 22:20). An interesting concept of eternity is that no matter what day it is, we’re always halfway between the beginning and the end (both of which are nonexistent). Nonetheless, we’re well more than halfway to the point of Jesus’ return, which as mentioned, continues to get closer than it has ever been before.
Are you ready?
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org