By Steve Jones, President of the Missionary Church
Merry Christmas, brothers and sisters in Christ! Here at the beginning of the Christmas season, I’d like to think together with you about wise men, and dogs, and you (in that order).
The wise men went on a mission that may have seemed anything but wise (at least the way they explained it to Herod). “We saw His star in the east and have come… to WORSHIP Him!”
They didn’t say, “We are skeptics who have come to investigate,” or “we are scientists who have come to experiment,” or “we are philosophers who have come to debate over what is happening here.”
They said, “We have come to worship Him.”
Now most people wouldn’t consider that wise at all! (There is no record of what their wives thought of the whole idea. Maybe it was a male-bonding sort of road trip.)
What did they actually do? They traveled on foot and by camel hundreds of miles. Weeks went by and became months, traveling under the stars at night, or bunking down exhausted when the first light of dawn obscured their view of the star they were following.
They did all of this to finally get to see… what? A toddler, most likely. (Since they had been journeying a long time, they found the child living in a house rather than a stable by this time, and Herod tried to kill every little boy under two years of age.)
A round trip of years to see a toddler. And not just to see him, but to worship him!
No, most folks wouldn’t consider that wise… but if there have ever been men who the world has judged wise, these guys are the ones! They have no other identification! They ARE the wise men!
They proved their wisdom because to them… the whole trip was worth it, just to worship Jesus in person.
NOW FOR THE DOG PART: To describe how wise they were, I need to do something very strange. I need to tell you about my dog!
The last dog we had was named Riley… a beagle/sheltie mix. When I would get home from work, my dog Riley would hear the sound of my car in the driveway, and immediately his face appeared in the side window of the house, ears up and eyes fixed on the car.
He was saying by his behavior…MY MASTER IS WORTH MY ATTENTION.
The minute I opened the car door, and as soon as my dog saw me, he raced around through the living room and the dining room and the kitchen to the side door of the house, where he knew I’d be coming in.
He was saying by his behavior, MY MASTER IS WORTH MY EFFORT.
Before I could get my key in the door, he was scratching with his claws on the door on his side, as if to make a way for me to come in. (Maybe he thought that when he heard my keys scratching in the lock, it meant that I was trying to dig my way in.)
He was saying by his actions, MY MASTER IS WORTH DOING WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET TO HIM.
As soon as I got in the house, his tail started wagging and he started jumping up and slapping the air with his paws.
He was making clear… MY MASTER MAKES ME HAPPY.
When I got to the kitchen, he would always run over to his dish and bring me one bite of food out of it, as if to say, “Look! A gift! I’ll show you where there’s food!”
He was expressing, MY MASTER MAKES ME WANT TO CELEBRATE!
As I took my coat off and walked into the living room, he’d run around and around the house, in big circles, racing from room to room, as if to say…
MY MASTER GIVES ME ENERGY AND EXCITEMENT.
When Riley saw me, everything about him said, “You are worth my attention, and my effort. You are worth doing whatever it takes to get into your presence. You make me happy. You make me want to celebrate. You give me energy and excitement!”
WHY IN THE WORLD AM I TELLING YOU ALL OF THIS ABOUT MY DOG?
Because of the word for worship in the New Testament.
Proskunesthai to worship.
Pros… toward. Kuon… dog. Esthai… to make oneself
The word used here is from the root idea of a dog’s relationship to its master. Therefore, worship means to make oneself like a dog toward someone.
When the wise men announced that they had come to WORSHIP Jesus, the word that Matthew used means “to make yourself like a dog toward someone.”
The wise men were saying JUST BY COMING INTO JERUSALEM, “When we noticed the star, God got our full attention. He was coming! We made every effort to get to him (NOT by scratching and scratching at the door, but) by traveling hundreds of miles across the desert. And now we’ll do whatever it takes to come into His presence. We are filled with joy. We want to celebrate! We’ve brought gifts to the party! He has given us energy and motivation and excitement enough to make this long journey!”
LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU.
Is Jesus still worth all of your attention and effort? Do you still do whatever it takes to get to be with Him?
Does the thought of Jesus fill you with JOY, make you want to celebrate, and fill you with energy and excitement?
Or have you drifted into our culture’s way of seeing Christmas?
Compared to the wise men, our culture gets the order of things all backwards.
- Our culture’s people do give presents,
- sometimes they even go to a worship service around Christmas time, but
- they almost never really bow down in their hearts to Him, because
- they don’t make the effort and take the time to see Him as He really is.
The wise men did everything in reverse order to us! On coming to the house, Matthew tells us…
- First they saw Jesus and were filled with incredible joy.
- Then they bowed down in His presence.
- They worshipped him with everything within themselves, and finally…
- They gave him presents.
This Christmas, let’s do it in the wise men’s order instead of our culture’s order.
Before we lead our first Christmas service or go to our first Christmas party, let’s do whatever it takes to personally come into His presence and SEE Him as He really is. Then let’s BOW before Him, altering our heart’s posture to express our true relationship with Him. Once our hearts are in the right attitude toward Jesus, let’s really WORSHIP Him (becoming like Riley… toward OUR Master). And finally, let’s give Him love-gifts that please Him, like inviting strangers in to supper or giving to the poor.
Merry Christmas to all of you. I am blessed by your incredible leadership in your churches!