My wife and I have been in our new home a little over a month and haven’t had a chance to meet any of our neighbors as of yet. As you may have noted from the pictures I’ve been posting on our blog, we live in a rural neighborhood and the houses are not real close to each other as in a typical suburban subdivision. When you add our physical location at the end of street, we just don’t get many people walking past our home!
But you know, I am not too concerned about it because I believe that we will meet those who live around us in Papa God’s perfect timing. So in the meantime, I smile and wave to the cars that may drive by and continue to show myself as friendly and open. We have begun to develop some relationships with the employees at a couple of the new stores that we have been frequenting though. Both my wife and I enjoy making people feel comfortable in our presence and work to elicit a smile from them as we interact.
In fact, we’ve been doing that since the early days of our marriage beginning at that old apartment we rented from 1975 to 78. There was a small privately owned grocery store next to the apartment complex that we would frequent for those little things we needed in between the bi-monthly big shopping days at a nearby Lucky’s store. We used to laugh and carry on with some of the workers on a regular basis to the point that they would make funny announcements to or about us over the store PA system when they saw us in the ceiling mirrors placed around the store!
And as usual we would share our life of faith with them. Our Christian beliefs have always been a big part of who we are and it would just naturally come out in our conversations. We had taken the time to get to know these folks and they knew us and they were not frightened off by our beliefs and the way we choose to live our lives. A few of them actually came to our church on occasion on Sunday mornings or to see a special program that we were doing with the youth group.
In some respects, I guess you could say that we were (and still are) a bit like that light that drew the three wise men to Jesus soon after His birth in Bethlehem so many years ago. I also believe that anyone who calls him or herself a Christian is called to do the same. Not forced or under condemnation because someone at your church says you have to witness, but simply as a natural outflow of your life shared with those around you!
Keep that thought in mind as you meditate on today’s Tuesday, the third week of Advent reading. By the way, since my wife and I were out most of the day yesterday, I did not have the opportunity to post Monday’s Advent reading to all my usual online groups. If you missed it, I would encourage you to go to our blog at pjberruto.blogspot.com and read the post, or any others that you may not have seen. I wouldn’t want you to miss any of the days of the Advent Calendar.
Following the Star!
Tuesday, the third week of Advent
Today’s Readings: Matthew 2:1-12 / Matthew 5:6 / Matthew 8:11
Let’s take a slightly different perspective on the story of the Wise Men who came to visit Jesus as described in the beginning of Matthew chapter two. Experts say that these men arrived in Bethlehem anywhere between a few months to two years after Jesus was born. It would seem that these scholarly men were not kings as some have thought, but actually members of a priestly, upper class among the Persians and Medes similar to the order of men that Daniel was put in charge of. (See Daniel 2:48) They were learned individuals “who cultivated astrology and kindred sciences.” (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary)
They were men that were hungry for truth. Their lives were devoted to watching the skies and studying the ancient writings as they searched for meaning in life. When the extraordinary star appeared they understood its meaning and followed it to the land of Judah where they found an extraordinary person, Jesus the foretold of King of the Jews. When they arrived in Jerusalem and began their inquiry, they like the shepherds before them, did not ask “if” such a king was actually born, they asked “where” the One called the King of the Jews was born!
I believe that these gentile Wise Men were like most men and women today who are searching for the truth in their lives. People all over the world are searching for the peace, love and security that we know only God, through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, can offer. They may not realize exactly what it is they need or where to find it so they experiment with all kinds of substances, lifestyles, religions, jobs, and recreational pursuits to name a few.
The star that led the Wise Men to the infant Jesus brought them to the successful conclusion of their search. I think that our heavenly Father would liken His children to that star that showed up a few thousand years ago. Matthew 2:2 tells how the Wise Men related that “we saw His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (NKJV) This would infer that they first saw the star while they were in their home country in the Eastern lands, not that they observed the star in the eastern sky, for then they would have traveled east and not west to Jerusalem. They were going about their everyday lives when the star appeared. That bright shining celestial object caused them to hunger and thirst after something that they needed to inquire of and they traveled many hard miles to discover Him.
People all around us today are living their daily lives while hungering and thirsting for more meaning. They are searching for Him and we as His children, can act like that bright shining star to lead them to His peace! John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible states that “This star had a motion to it; kept pace with them, and was a guide unto them.” (Commentary on Matthew 2:9-10) This is the perfect example of how we should allow ourselves to become involved in the lives of the non-Christian’s with whom we rub elbows with on a regular basis. These being our neighbors, those we work with and even with the store employees that we interact with every time we go grocery shopping or to the Mall!
Get to know them. Learn what is important to them and then let the light of Christ just shine through you! Keep in step with them and show them that they are special to you, and that you accept them, whether you agree with their lifestyle choices or anything else that they pursue in life that is contrary to your belief system. In other words, be who you are, live what you believe and be their friend. Don’t preach it, live it!
I would encourage you to pray about it, choose the right individual(s) and then be someone’s star this holiday season that leads them to the King of kings! I can’t think of a better Christmas gift than the gift of Jesus! How about you? Have a great day. Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting TO DO for OTHERS today?”