Monday, December 08, 2003

Got this from my friends at Youth Specialties. Definitely worth the read.

When people decide to look for Jesus, what's the best way to find him? Is faith primarily a matter of the head or the heart? No one has all the answers, but if you listen closely to the biblical Christmas stories this year, you'll find some good clues.

How did the Magi (wise men) find Jesus? They used their gray matter. They studied. They pondered. They discussed. They combined their knowledge and logic. And even though all they had to go on was a general direction, they acted.

The shepherds, on the other hand, weren't rocket scientists. They were simple guys working the night shift. They had gray matter, too, but it was caked on their sandals after tromping around in sheep by-products that smelled like--well, let's just say the stuff didn't smell like frankincense. But when a bevy of heavenly strangers showed up and told them the good news about Jesus, they acted.

Meanwhile, there were two senior citizens at the temple who were also included in the celebration of Jesus' birth. Simeon was "a righteous man and very devout" who had been promised by God that he wouldn't die until he had seen "the Lord's Messiah." Anna was an 84-year-old widow who "never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer." You don't see these two standing around the manger in the Christmas story in Luke 2, because Jesus went to them. When Joseph and Mary took the baby Jesus to the temple to thank God with a sacrifice, Simeon and Anna both got to see him and rejoice.

If finding Jesus required smarts, the shepherds would still be sitting in the dark. If it took a choir of angels handing out personal invitations, the Magi would have stayed home. If it took lots of money, the right friends, a good reputation, or a prestigious job, then Mary and Joseph wouldn't have qualified in the first place.

These Christmas stories suggest that God uses many methods to call people to himself through his Son, and we ALL are invited. Whether we're trying to find out more about Jesus through spiritual, intellectual, or emotional pursuits, the key is not how much we know, but rather how we ACT on what we know.

The only person in all of these stories who didn't find Jesus was the one with the most resources at his disposal. King Herod was told exactly where to look for Jesus. But instead of going himself, he asked the Magi to check it out for him. Some people still lose out on the world's most wonderful discovery when they leave the searching up to parents, friends, or someone else.

The Bible promises that those who seek will find. And if you're seeking Jesus, what you find will change not only your life, but your eternity as well. So in the next few weeks, use your head AND your heart as you look for the real meaning of Christmas. Better yet, take a hint from Anna and Simeon. When you devote yourself to a righteous and devout life, you can't miss him.

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