The Christ Thief: When Jesus Wields His Advent Crowbar

We’ve all seen the picture of a halo-wearing Jesus standing at the door and knocking.

Not as familiar is the ski-mask-wearing Jesus who jumps our fence, pries open our back door with a crowbar, and skulks inside to steal our stuff.

This December, as we step into Advent, it’s the Christ Thief who demands our attention.

  • “Behold, I am coming like a thief!” Jesus tells John (Rev 16:15).
  • The day of the Lord will “come like a thief,” Paul tells the church (1 Thess 5:2).
  • And Jesus says his advent will be like a home invasion (Matt 24:43).

I know, not exactly how I envisioned the Son of God back in Sunday School, either.

But we need this other picture of Jesus, too, especially in this pre-Christmas season where we prize—and deify—all the wrong things. "Perhaps, during Advent, a season with pornographic levels of consumption in which our credit card debts and our waistbands expand, the idea that Jesus wants to break in and jack some of our stuff is really good news," writes Nadia Bolz-Weber in Accidental Saints.

@@We need God’s Son to show up on our doorstep, not with a knock but a crowbar.@@

Come, Lord Jesus, and steal our control. We are control hoarders. Every room in the house of our life is stacked with plans and schedules we manipulate to deceive ourselves into assuming we have a firm grip on the chaos of our lives. We don’t. One short in our home’s electrical wiring can send it all up in smoke. One quick glance at the phone in our laps can send us into the back of a semi and into ICU. We are not in control. We are in Christ. Come, Lord Jesus, steal our self-confident plans and replace them with God-given trust that, no matter what happens, we are safe in the home of your grace.

Come, Lord Jesus, and steal our independence. We pride ourselves on needing no one. Standing on our own two feet. But it’s all a lie. And a rather comical one at that. The lady standing in the grocery store line thinks of herself as an independent woman—but without farmers she’d have no groceries to buy. Without construction workers there’d be no store. Without her employer she’d have no money. Without assembly line laborers, she’d have no car to drive them home in. And without seamstresses, she’d be standing there buck naked. Independent? Whatever. Our lives are thoroughly enmeshed in a web of dependence. Come, Lord Jesus, steal our self-important arrogance and replace it with God-given gratitude for all that you do for us through the hands of others.

Come, Lord Jesus, and steal our sacred sins. The idols of our “righteous causes” hang in every room of our homes. Our political and religious crusades that make us feel important in the eyes of God and others. They give us a sense of identity and purpose and meaning in life. These causes may (or may not) be good, but we transmogrify them into our mini-gods. And we castigate those who disagree with us, belittle them, and say with our actions—if not our words—that they’ll never be as special to God as we are. Come, Lord Jesus, and steal our navel-gazing worship, and replace it with love for our adversaries, ears to listen and mouths to shut up, and hearts brimming with compassion for all.

Advent is a season of preparation, readiness, awareness.

  • Prepare us, O Lord, to be prepared by you for your advent among us.
  • Ready us, O Lord, to suffer the destruction of all our precious faux gods, that we might have true riches in you.
  • Make us aware, O Lord, that you give and take away, you kill and make alive, you ransack our homes to steal all the stupid stuff that keeps us from you, and replace it with simple, humble gifts wrapped in crucified love.

@@Visit our homes, O Christ Thief, during this Advent season, wielding your sacred crowbar.@@

Here's a short YouTube video in which I talk about the biblical understanding of time, especially the Hebrew view of the future as behind us and the past in front of us.