What's It All About? "In the Nick of Time, Jesus to the Rescue"

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days
of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came
to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East,
and have come to worship him." Matthew 2: 1-2

Here's a shocker. You and I and the wise men have something in common. From the first, they blew it, looking on the Christmas Star. We do too, continually. We all get it in our heads that the star is there for us to follow. It's the original GPS, the "On Star" navigation system designed with us in mind. ('Ever think about that name?) By the usual account, the Star is the quintessential sign that everything revolves around us. Even in the heavens. And so it remains until one solitary thing happens to them. They see the child. They see Jesus. Thereafter, everything's changed. It's my hope, and God's own prayer, that you and I will experience the same Great Awakening, right here and now.

For most of human history, we've looked up, only to confirm our heart-felt conviction: the universe revolves around us. We're the center! (Your kids didn't think this up! You either!) From the first human day 'til about 500 years ago, even the great thinkers believed the earth, that's us, lay at the heart of all that is. Ptolemy, the Egyptian astronomer, summed up our understanding and projected our future. We're the belly-button of space. Other planets may wander and whirl. Not us. No orbit. No rotation. 'As fixed in the heavens as a kid's gaze on the biggest box under the tree on Christmas morning! Yeah, us! No wonder God draws near. Here's the magi's view, too. A new sighting in the heavens? It's all about us. 'God gettin' our attention. A celestial Sunday morning announcement at church! It would take a revolution, confirmed by a radical's observation to get it right. Enter Nicolaus Copernicus, 1543 (just 500+/- yrs. ago). Stop the presses: the sun centers the solar system; we fly 'round it. Galileo and his telescope testify to it. For his trouble: the King will lock him up, the church will throw him out. (You'd have thought he called the pope a Baptist or the Royals Presbyterians!)
Now I know better that to turn church into 7th grade science class. But maybe if we grasp how determined we've been to make everything revolve around us as a race, as a planet, we'll "get it"! Astronomy needed a revolution to realize it's not all about us. Now we need to see as the wise men did, that in the things of the spirit, the same is true. It ain't all us! Live our lives as though it were, and we are living a lie. We're missing the point. We're off-center, eccentric, 'amartia, living in sin, our Bible says. The magi of the East arrive at the cradle of Christ. Matthew says they're the first to experience a Copernican Revolution of the soul! They come believing the star is for their guidance (all about us). They leave seeing that the star is for His glory! It's all about Him! That's life, real life! So great is this Son, heaven itself dusts off a diamond in the sky, a haloed Hallelujah. That star may not move so much as our hearts. And when our hearts are moved our feet follow… All the way to Bethlehem!

Believe me. This revolution/revelation has profoundly down-to-earth consequences for our every day lives! It's life-changing if you've never grasped it, life-directing (just ask the magi) if you're willing to follow it. Figure out you're not the center of the universe, and all of a sudden, God doesn't exist to make a big deal out of us. We exist to make a big deal out of God. It's not about you, or me: it's about God (in Jesus Christ). I thank Max Lucado (It's Not About Me) for putting it pretty much like this. Don't you hope every parent who over-did the kids' Christmas gifts will commit to giving the gift of this message? Let the youngsters receive this word all across this new year. Two weeks after the holidays, that lady's on the TV selling weight-loss in a size 2 dress, like that's everything! Self-absorption runs amuck! If you sell stuff, brace yourself. The year-end sales reports are due. Despite whatever their management and product are, the boss is about to try to make it all about you. Government agencies call this performance evaluation. In different ways, stay-at-home folks get in touch with aches and pains that hold us back, and con us into believing our relief's the center of the universe. It's important. But there's so much more. Those old sky-watchers, the magi, got a new insight once they saw Jesus. Quit trying to be the sun in the sky; try to reflect the Son on earth. A novel way to put this: learn to be a moonshiner! (My friend Max put me onto this. He reminds…) The moon makes no light of its own. Apart from the sun, it's a dead sphere with severe acne on its face. Its place/calling is to position itself so as to reflect the sun. It takes no offense that cows jump over it or astronauts step on it. It's all about reflection! So let me ask you. What would happen if you came to see (like the magi, like the moon) that your place is to be a reflector, not of a fireball in the sky, but a Savior in a cradle? Maybe it wouldn't be all about a mate that pleases us, kids that get grades for us, co-workers that satisfy us, even weather that's in season in our season. Maybe life makes sense when we shift away from ourselves and toward Christ. A Christ-centered life rescues us from a senseless life. Paul once said it this way. "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, [we] are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord." (II Cor. 3: 18)

So far as I know, John the Baptist was no moonshiner, as we'd usually use the word. But he absolutely understood the high calling of reflection. It's the great life for all who possess a great soul! "I got water," he says. "Come to me and get your life, your act, all cleaned up." But it's not all about me. It's all about the One who's comin'!" "Why, he's got the Holy Spirit, a refiner's fire with which to light your life and purify your soul!" So here comes Jesus. And when he comes up from the waters, the Spirit has something to say about his life too, wouldn't you know. Peace that passes all understanding rests on his shoulder like a dove. And God declares it Jesus' life and calling to please God! In him is light. 'Reflected glory from the Father of Light. Even Jesus says, "It's not all about me; it's all about God!" "Follow. Believe. Trust. Immitate." And life will be real and true. Jesus to the rescue, in the nick of time! And the strange thing is, the cool thing is, when we get this right, life falls into place in such a wondrous new way. We hear God say to us, as to ancient Israel, "Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you; I have called you by name. You're mine! When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they won't overwhelm you; when times are fiery you won't get burned… you've been ransomed and are precious in my eyes. I love you…whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." (Isaiah 43: 1-7, alt.) Get your place right and your life will be too.
Methodists have had a way of expressing this from the start. Often as a New Year begins, we have made or renewed covenant with God. At the heart of that covenant, historic words I invite you to share with me today….
Lord Jesus Christ… Lord Jesus Christ,
Let me be your servant…,
Not my own, but yours….

Lord, make me what you will….
Put me to doing, put me to suffering…,
'Employed, or laid aside for you…,
'Full or empty, with all things, or nothing…,
Freely, and with a willing heart….,
I give my all to your pleasure and devotion…!
And let this covenant I have made on earth…
be ratified in heaven….

Praise God. Jesus to the rescue in the nick of time! A real life. A true life. Not centered in ourselves, but reflecting his glory and pleasing in God's sight! This week, know your place,
and give God pleasure!

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