Matters of Faith: This One Thing

‭‭‬‬‬‬‭‭“THIS ONE THING!”
By Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv.

Philippians‬ ‭3:13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

This is the time of year that Christians worldwide celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ, that singular event that changed the course of history forever. This season is called Advent and is made up of the four Sundays and weeks before Christmas. The word Advent is Latin and means “Coming.” This is the period of time that Christians prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.

Along with the tradition of Advent, there are several other traditions that are practiced throughout Christendom and far too numerous for me to enumerate here (You can do your own investigation if you desire to know more). The one that I’d like to bring to Matters of Faith readers are the candles that are used to count down to the arrival of Christ.

There are four candles that are lit on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve. Each candle is lit according to a particular order and has a specific meaning:

  • Purple: The Candle of Hope – This candle reminds us that God keeps His promises. He promised a Savior, and He sent one.
  • Purple: The Candle of Preparation – This candle reminds us to be prepared to receive the Lord.
  • Pink: The Candle of Joy – This candle remembers the multitudes of angels that joyfully announced the birth of Christ.
  • Purple: The Candle of Love – This candle represents the love of God. It was out of His incredible love that God sent His only Son Jesus.

There is a fifth candle that is white: The Christ Candle. When this candle is lit on Christmas Day, it symbolizes Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

The real meaning of Christmas is not about gifts purchased on Black Friday. Christians believe that it’s about the gift of the Christ child.

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV) 

The countdown to Christ’s arrival has started. We experienced His first arrival when he was born as a baby in the manger. Many have experienced or can experience His second arrival when they receive Him into their hearts as their Savior. We now await His third and final arrival when He will come as King and judge.

Whether or not you believe the prophecy of His coming, His message of grace and mercy, His professed purpose to reconcile a sinful world with a benevolent God, or His eventual return to judge the world, no one can deny that His arrival changed the course of history.

Time itself is measured based on this one event; BC is used to define time “Before Christ,” and AD (Latin annō Dominī] is “in the year of the Lord; since Christ was born.” Whether you believe it or not, there is not another event in all of history that has had a greater impact. This one thing has kept the world looking forward to His final return.

In the Philippian’ text above, Paul says that his entire ministry was centered on winning the prize for which God had called him. His singular mission was to declare far and wide that Christ was born, crucified and resurrected for the salvation of humankind. He wasn’t trying to do everything. He was focused on this one thing.

In life, we are often guilty of taking on too much. Churches have the same issue. The lack of a clear focus on a core mission creates confusion and develops into ineffectiveness. Today is the day that the candle of Hope is lit. It is the candle that reminds us that God keeps His promises. He promised a Savior, and He sent one. He came for this one thing. When Paul was converted, his mission was just one thing. You don’t have to be good at everything, you just have to be good at one thing. Know what you can do to advance God’s Kingdom and do just that one thing.

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial & Strategic Consulting, and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio, Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM. Listen here or by phone at 626-226-1448. Be sure to friend “Matters of Faith” on Facebook, Twitter @jlorenr, and email us at

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