Stroked And Scratched

Let a righteous man strike me – it is a kindness.
Let him rebuke me – it is oil for my head.
Let my head not refuse it.

As I prepare for a season that marks God’s entrance into our world in our flesh, I must also ready myself to be rightly admonished. As you know, this doesn’t happen naturally. Like the rest of my culture, I want to be petted.

I want to waltz into Advent and have God appreciate how lovely I am to him. I want to be stroked and scratched behind the ears – cooed over – by a grandfatherly Santa-God.

Let a righteous man strike me – it is a kindness.
Let him rebuke me – it is oil for my head.
Let my head not refuse it.*

I’m not ready for Jesus because I’m too full of myself. There’s no room in my thoughts, heart, or capacity for any other thing except those things that please me and affirm me. Also. ‘Rebuke Oil For My Head’ is certainly not something I’d put on my Things That I Truly Want For Advent list.

Jesus came down from heaven, took on our flesh, and was struck down by his Heavenly Father to secure our bodies and souls forever. Surely I can trust that anything Christ reproves in my life is for my eternal good and lasting joy?

God sent hundreds of prophets over thousands of years to rebuke his people and the people said, “Get that junk out of here! We want to be petted!” They refused his divine loving-kindness and preferred to be exactly who they wanted to be.

Being who you want to be – closing yourself to God’s loving discipline – leads to death. But God, of course, knows this. And so when his people refused to listen to his servants, the prophets, he sent his only Son to them from heaven.

And even though they insisted they were, the people still weren’t ready. To be more accurate, they slammed the door in Jesus’ face and said “You’re not welcome here! Come back when you look more like a real Messiah.” And when he refused to pet them, they killed him.

Now we are approaching a set-apart time to think carefully about all that God has done. Do I have the space in my heart to receive his thoughts? His words? His rebukes, even?

Let a righteous man strike me – it is a kindness.
Let him rebuke me – it is oil for my head.
Let my head not refuse it.

Jesus, the Righteous Man, was born to bring us to God through his suffering, obedience, and resurrection. He intends to present us to God – holy and beautiful – because we have been washed clean by his own precious blood. But he also intends to make us more and more holy. He will not approve the things in our lives that lead to death and away from life.

Advent asks us to get up and stand expectantly at the door – not bed down by the fire and get spiritually cozy. And Jesus asks to wait up and prepare from him now, even as it’s late, for he’s coming home soon.

Peace to you and yours as you prepare for God’s kindness to you and the world he loves.

Until tomorrow, Kim.

* Psalm 121-122

*I want to be petted? pet? patted? The grammar struggle is real.


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