“He was created by a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, He the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.” Augustine
Maybe I’m missing something but I just don’t get it. Personally, I don’t see why it even made news, but it did. I’m referring to the recent “history-making announcement” that Prince Harry and his American girlfriend, Meghan Markle, are engaged and will wed in the spring (Uhm, should I stop yawning now?). But don’t we celebrate every 4th of July about getting free from royalty, for something like 240 years now? Didn’t that mean we switched tea for coffee? Soccer for a man’s sport, like football? Stopped talking funny and all proper? Replaced tiny cars with big ones? (They don’t even drive on the right side of the road.) And who wants to live on an island when you can have a continent?
Yet, in spite of all the reasons that we’re glad that we’re not British, countless Americans still treat British royalty like royalty…even though in the U.S. of A, we don’t have royalty. And if Meghan and Harry get married at 3 am, gazillions of Americans (particularly those of a certain gender) will get up to watch the whole affair.
Have you ever noticed that the very ones who should have sought out royalty at Christ’s birth didn’t? In the narrative of His birth I find one part that always leaves me bewildered. It’s in Matthew’s Gospel. When the wise men came to Jerusalem looking for the “King of the Jews,” the theologians and professional clergy all knew, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel’” (Matthew 2:5-6). So since they all knew, why didn’t the religious leaders go to Bethlehem? After all, it was so close, a mere six miles. If they knew that the Messiah was to be born there, why didn’t they go and check it out for themselves?
Comparatively, the Magi knew so little, yet came so far and gave so much. The priests and teachers of the law knew so much but did so little. If Jesus came to Milwaukee, would we go and see Him? What if Jesus came to Chicago, would we be too busy to check it out? But they didn’t.
Why not? It’s the age-old problem, good people, nice ones, and particularly religious people don’t think that they really need Jesus. In spite of those silly Facebook quizzes about who is naughty or nice, most of us believe we’re on God’s “nice list” and Jesus didn’t come for “nice people.”
Nice people think that ultimately their niceness will pay off, that in a sense God owes them. Good people are fastidious in their compliance to ethical norms. They faithfully fulfill all the traditional family, community and civic responsibilities, but it’s often a slavish, joyless drudgery.
The word “slave” has strong overtones of being forced or pushed rather than drawn or attracted. A slave works out of fear—fear of consequences imposed by force. This goes to the root of what often drives the “good” and religious crowd. Ultimately, good religious people live good lives out of fear, not out of joy and love…and certainly not freedom.
The bottom line is that though they may be kind to others and even helpful to the poor, at a deeper level, they’re doing it either so God will bless them, or so they can think of themselves as nice, virtuous, charitable people. They’re not really doing things for other people or even for God. They’re not feeding the hungry and clothing the poor for the poor. They’re feeding and clothing themselves. The heart’s fundamental self-centeredness is not only kept intact, it’s nurtured by fear-based moralism. Religious and moral duties are an incredibly heavy burden. Emotional frustration and inner boredom with life is repressed and denied. Good people are under extreme pressure to appear, even to themselves as nice, happy and content.
But the greatest loss though is a lack of assurance of God’s love and acceptance. What are some signs of a lack of that assurance? Every time something goes wrong in their life or a prayer goes unanswered, they wonder if it’s because they aren’t living as morally or upright as maybe they should. Theirs is a “hope so” religion. “I hope God really loves me.” “I hope I’m forgiven.” “I hope I’m on my way to heaven.”
Jesus came to give us assurance and true hope as part of God’s forever family. He came to be our Savior, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior” (Luke 2:11). The religious leaders in Jerusalem were ignorant of their greatest need. Though they were good and religious, it wasn’t enough – they needed a Savior, and so do you and so do I.
Perhaps you’re very nice, religious and believe in Jesus, but for far too many that belief has never led to a point of personal commitment. You know Him intellectually, but not personally. And we all have the same great need. It’s the one that the angel told Joseph about, “you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). We all have a sin problem. It’s one that we can never solve ourselves. It’s why Jesus came. But we must come to Him, like the shepherds and Magi. Christ never turns away any heart that’s open to Him. Those who seek Him find Him. The wise still seek Him. Have you sought Jesus as your Savior?
If you want to watch the royal wedding next year, go ahead and enjoy it. Yet, whatever you do, please don’t miss out on the real King and true royalty that can make a difference in your life now and for eternity. Crown the one true King, King Jesus, as King of your life today.
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