the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one (1 Corinthians 2:14-15).
The Magi were troublemakers. They blew into town like a bunch of know it all's, asking questions and upsetting the senior citizen who ran the place. I'm not saying they were mean-spirited but it seems to me that they should have been a bit more sensitive to the needs of others. After all, their entire Safari was based upon hearsay. None of them had ever seen "the King of the Jews." Yes, they had heard about him, probably had the story told to them more than once but clearly they had everything secondhand.
You have to wonder why they weren't willing to let well enough alone. Sure, if they wanted to traipse across the country on a spiritual quest, well, that was their business. But when they stirred up an entire city with their crazy ideas they shifted from worshiping their God in their own way into plain old fanaticism. For crying out loud, they came to the "Bible Belt" of the ancient world acting as if they were the ones on the trail of truth. It's not like the people of Palestine were in need of theological tutoring is it? Who were they trying to impress?
You know, if discretion is the better part of valor then perhaps discretion is also the better part of religion. What I mean is, shouldn't the Wisemen have been more sensitive to the situation in Jerusalem? Not everyone was going to have the same views they did. And we know from the historical account that their wild religious fervor ended up making a mess of things. A little sensitivity and tolerance would've made a lot more sense.
Think about it; King Herod was made to feel like a second-class citizen and so he ended up doing some pretty crummy things. Well, what do you expect when religious zealots were pestering the old guy night and day? Really, it was the Wisemen's fault. If the Magi were so smart they should've known that talk about a Messiah would stir things up. Just think about all the families who suffered because the Magi insisted on yakking up the story of a star proclaiming the birth of a Savior.
Then to top it all off, once they find the Messiah they refuse to go back and tell the old king about it. He had asked them to report back when they found the Savior. He had said he wanted to worship the Messiah as well. Seems rather arrogant for them to pack up and leave without telling anyone. Come to think of it, you really can't blame old Herod for losing his cool. He was probably suffering from depression to begin with and then to have a bunch of foreign missionaries make a fool of him was just too much.
So, the Magi should've stayed home, stayed out of other people's business and stayed busy with their book learning. They stepped out of line the minute they took their religion into the public square. After all, most people agree that the best religion is personal spirituality not something that makes other people uncomfortable. Sincerity is what matters.
Doctrine is for fanatics. Life-changing faith is the stuff of fairy tales. Any religion that lays claim to every aspect of life is ridiculous. And I am thankful that this is exactly what God gave us in the birth of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago.
Merry Christmas and a happy new year.