Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Modern Magi

This upcoming Friday, we in the Christian Church will be celebrating Epiphany, the traditional recognition of when the three (or more) wise men from the East came to bring the Savior gifts of gold, frankincense, and myre.  While we today do not know exactly when the magi saw the star and how long they traveled to see where it led, we do know that they traveled a long way to see a God that they presumably had not even believed in.  You see the wise men were astrologers, a practice that Judaism and Christianity frown upon; they certainly were not followers of the one, true God before they met Jesus.  While this is a very popular story linked with Christmas, the birth of Jesus, we know nothing of what happened to the wise men after they returned home.  We know they did not go back to King Herod, but did they believe for the rest of their lives in Jesus?  There is really no way of knowing.

Why, then, is this story even important?  Today there are many people who seek some sort of happiness or fulfillment that will plug the void they feel engulfing their lives.  Some people turn to fame, wealth, knowledge, sex, drugs, and alcohol.  The use of astrology is still a popular fixture in the lives of many Americans and, sadly, many Christians.  If the story of the Magi teaches us anything, it is that people will always be searching for Christ.  The magi, though they did not believe in God (or maybe hadn't even heard of him), somehow knew that this star was important and that they needed to go find the newborn King and give him lavish gifts.  Interestingly, no missionary or pastor or teacher told them about God or the Messiah (at least that we know of), but God sent his Holy Spirit and revealed Himself to them.  People like the magi want to use any means that they can to find their happiness; but they refuse to listen to the Holy Spirit and harden their hearts. 

Today people are still looking for the right church, or the right religion, or the right belief, or the right philosophy.  For many people this leads them to Christianity and salvation.  For far too many others, though, they continue their search.  Just like the magi they travel far and long through life following whatever they hope will lead them to happiness.  The magi had a star from God to guide them; modern magi have Christians.  Christians who are not timid or ashamed to shine for Christ act like God's guiding star to those who are still searching for the Christ.

Many people point to the Epiphany and state how it is the ancient basis for the exchanging of gifts at Christmas.  They also claim that it is a story that shows how important giving back to God from your worldly wealth really is.  Both of these things are true; very true, in fact.  However, let us not forget that the task of the star that led the magi to Jesus is not over.  Jesus passed that responsibility onto us, the Church, when He said "Go and make disciples of all nations."  Epiphany, in addition to being a time of giving and reflection on Christ's birth, should also be a reminder to all Christians that we are God's shining stars to the modern magi that still seek Him.

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