Everything in the universe is built around systems. Our body is made up of systems. The earth has biological systems. Systems can be both effective and ineffective. Unfortunately, we hear about and experience many of the ineffective systems such as racism, classism, politics and bureaucracy, and more. The bad news is that such ineffective (and even oppressive) systems don't just appear out of the ground. They slowly take root over generations, manifesting themselves in various ways. The good news is that we have the power to change these systems. The challenge, though, is for us to have the courage to do so. But, we are sometimes timid about confronting systems for several reasons. Some of those reasons may include:
- We benefit from them.
- We feel ill-equipped to change them.
- We get frustrated and discouraged with not having the immediate fix we expected.
I've had the opportunity to observe systems in both the secular and religious contexts. Usually, the aforementioned reasons manifest themselves in these conventional statements: "We know the system is broken, but it's just the way things are. It's the way things have always been." It seems we surrender power to the broken systems. However, when we surrender, we forget that these systems will gain deeper roots and bind those who come after us—those who had no say in the matter.
Advent is about anticipating the arrival of the One who comes to breaks such systems, to set the captives free, and to model a life that's worth living. He did this not out of antagonism, but out of love. Think of all the trailblazers, martyrs, and freedom fighters. They didn't necessarily live to see the fruits of their labour. That's not the point. The aim was to make the world a better place not just for them, but for the generations to come. Why should anyone have to live through what once was the status quo? It would be selfish of us to not secure a better future for those who come after us.
"Maybe not in time for you and me, but someday at Christmas time," Christ will make all things new. Until then, we wait—not with idle hands in our pockets, but diligent hands working for change. Truthfully, God requires it of us. So, this Christmas (and beyond) live in hope that peace is with us and for us. On the journey, let joy sustain you. And with each step leave a trail of love, not just for today, but for all tomorrows.