In this week’s Scripture, many people are looking for Christ.
Some find him. Others don’t.
The Wise Men are the ones who find Christ. These “magi” were probably Babylonian or Persian astrologers, so it’s appropriate that they follow a star.
Then there is King Herod. He was a great builder, a powerful leader, and a man suspicious of even his own family. In 40 BCE he petitioned the Roman Senate for a special title, and they gave it to him: “King of the Jews.” But great as he is, Herod does not find Christ.
Today, I am seeking Christ – not as a baby in a manger, but as the One I want to follow. Sometimes it’s obvious where Christ is and what I should do to follow him. But sometimes, the path behind Christ is less than obvious. So I’m interested in this story of those who find Christ and those who do not, because I want to be someone who finds Christ.
King Herod gives us a lesson on what NOT to do. Herod seeks Christ with the wrong motives. He learns of this baby born “King of the Jews” and becomes jealous. He wants to find Christ so he can eliminate a rival.
When we seek Christ, we need to make sure our own motives are right.
Fortunately, Christ told us the two greatest commandments: Love God, and love our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). Whenever we’re trying to find Christ, our hearts and our actions should be filled with this love of God and neighbor. Otherwise, we’re heading down the wrong path.
The Wise Men give us a lesson on what we SHOULD do to seek Christ. They use the tool they have to work with – astrology – to find their way. We, too, ought to use the tools we’ve been given.
For John Wesley (the founder of the Methodist movement), this spiritual toolbox contained 4 things. The first – and far above the other 3 – was Scripture. The Bible is our best way to learn about God and God revealed in Christ. I like to start each day by reading the Bible as a way to acknowledge this.
But if the Bible is the best tool we’ve got, it’s not the only one. There are three others: reason (our own thinking capabilities), experience (our personal experience of God), and tradition (the wisdom of the Church in the generations before us). One thing I’ve learned from church tradition is that the Bible is “doubly inspired” – inspired by God when written, and inspired by God when read. Reason, experience, and tradition help the Bible to be inspired as I read it today, so that I understand it as God intends it.
At a time of New Year’s resolutions, a good one might be to seek Christ more intentionally.
As we do, we ought to avoid being like Herod and have the right motivations.
And we ought to be like the Wise Men, using all the tools available to us.
Let us seek Christ,
so we can find Christ,
so we can follow Christ.