December 29, 2014
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Only two people saw him that day. Most people at the temple that day were taking care of their religious business, going through their religious motions and they probably didn’t notice at all.
The holy family didn’t walk about first century Israel with an aura of light around them and little halos above their heads. Or maybe they did, and only those with eyes to see could see it.
It takes becoming a certain kind of person to “see” Jesus. We can learn a lot from those two, Simeon and Anna. We don’t begin learning to “behold” Jesus by beholding him. Our learning begins when we catch a glimpse of someone else beholding him.
The BIG LESSON we learn from Simeon and Anna, under which I would file the smaller ones below, is HOLY DISCONTENT.
1. People of Holy Discontent are “full” yet still hungry; their satisfaction in God is only exceeded by their yearning for more of him. Anna and Simeon knew God yet they still hadn’t found what they were looking for. Perhaps the most paradoxically puzzling aspect of people who know God is their insatiable thirst to know more of God. They are people of great peace yet discontent; not unholy discontent as in “dissident” or “malcontent” or “dour contrarian”, but holy discontent. Because they have learned what truly satisfies, they know what does not.
2. The posture of Holy discontent leads to and looks like the process of deep transformation of one’s innermost self. It looks like living in profound “awe” of God. “Devout” does not mean an outward commitment to religious activity. It means to continually be taking hold of what is true, noble, right, pure, good, lovely, commendable and excellent. It is a transformation not born of “striving” and “trying harder,” to please God, but from reveling in the pleasure of God. It comes from beholding the beauty of God while enjoying being the beloved of God.
3. People of Holy Discontent are people of “one thing.” They are Kingdom Essentialists. They wait on the Kingdom of God by making it the sole priority in everything they are about. They wait actively not passively. They possess within themselves a well-honed receptivity to the person and work of the Holy Spirit. In the four sentence description we get of Simeon, the Holy Spirit is mentioned by name three times. Wow! To be a person of holy discontent means to stand with God’s people throughout all of time as they glimpse the Kingdom coming on the horizon and actively welcome it from a distance. Because they literally taste the glorious future, they can both feast and fast according to the needs of the present moment.
4. In short, and perhaps in summary, people of holy discontent are people of profound aspiration, their lives seized by a pure and holy passion to know Jesus in a way that can help others know him too. They can never go back to whatever it was they thought satisfied them before.
Only two people saw him that day and all these years later we are still talking about them and because of them we are talking about Jesus. In the hurried rush of our endless lists, only a few will see him today. It will be the people of holy discontent. It always is.
I want to challenge you to pray for the gift of holy discontent as we head into 2015. Trust me when I tell you it is the pathway to everything that will matter the most to you at the end of the day.
On the Sixth Day of Christmas. . . .
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