Faithlife Sermons

Christmas Worship Stopped by Ambition

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Background: This is an excerpt from an unpublished book by Brad Berglund. It explores the Christian adage: Wise men still seek him. What would it be like if modern seekers were with the wise men when they worshiped Jesus?

Previously, Higher-Status had expressed his fears to a Pharisee in the temple (click {HERE} for the previous chapter). The wise men and the seekers all leave Jerusalem an make their way to Bethlehem.

In the book, the wise men are about to enter in and worship the child (click {HERE} for the discovery of the wise men. He is the answer to their soul’s deepest needs. However, the seeker outside will not enter for various reasons.

“Wait!” Higher-Status cried out.

“What is wrong?” the others asked.

“I’m just not sure. Is this really the wise thing to do? What reason do you have for believing that this child is a king at all, let alone the King of kings?”

“You have been with us from the first. Remember the testimony of the scriptures. They said things would be as we now find them. What is more, you also saw the star. It has pointed us to this very residence. There can be no mistake that God had revealed this miracle to us.”

“I know, but why should such a king be born into such poverty? Where are his powerful fathers that have paved the way for his glory? They are no where to be found.”

“This king’s power comes from His meekness and condescension.”

“See! That makes absolutely no sense. Herod is the king of the Jews. He has the authority from Rome and the demonstration of wealth to prove it. He could annihilate this little town with a snap of his finger. What is meekness and humility going to do against such strength? What type of God rewards losers and chastises winners? I want my future to be attached to one who is going somewhere, not to some meek philosophical nobody.”

“May I interject?” asked Shepherd Sam.

“Please do,” said Balthazar.

Shepherd Sam looked up and down the frame of Higher-Status. “A rich, young ruler,” the shepherd observed.

Higher-Status sniffed twice with his nose, “A humble, smelly shepherd,” he said with mocking tones.

The Shepherd laughed while Higher-Status glared at him. “Rich, increased with goods, and in need of nothing,” the Shepherd observed.

Higher-Status quipped, “Poor, needy, and content to chase sheep all over the pasture. What is the point of this?”

The Shepherd did not once lose his calm control. “You think very highly of yourself. I bow before the presence of such greatness.” Shepherd Sam backed away and gave Higher-Status a bow. “Nonetheless, one greater than yourself is over there in that inn. You will either humble yourself by entering into his presence, or you will experience the humiliation of calling him Lord when it is entirely too late.”

“Or I could just eliminate Him now.”

“No you can’t,” replied the shepherd with absolute calm. “You are not, nor will you ever be more powerful than He is. He is Immanuel; you are His creation.”

“I do not deserve such insults!” Higher-Status exclaimed.

“Nor does Immanuel deserve the insult of taking on human flesh in order to save men, but He has. Do not be deceived by the humility before you. Immanuel’s kingdom will be established upon righteousness and justice. He is looking for righteous people, not just wealthy and talented people like yourself.”

Higher-Status was ready to object at this insult, but as he thought about it, Shepherd Sam had not insulted him. He had spoken the truth. He was indeed a proud, talented, and wealthy young man. Ambition was his true god. As these realities came together, Shepherd Sam said, “I was wrong to say you were in need of nothing. Your life cries out that you need more power and authority. You are not content with where you are. You did not come to worship this Child; you came to achieve personal greatness and control over people.”

“What is wrong with that? If anything good is going to be done in this world, people of power need to manipulate the masses for their own good.”

“Beyond that doorway is God’s gift to humanity. He did not come to empower people; He came to save them from the wretchedness of their sin. He came to establish a kingdom in which righteousness, not sheer might, rules the world. If you are filled with your own personal ambitions, you will neither receive Him as king, nor worship Him as Immanuel. Today, you must make a choice. Why will you hesitate?”

“Because …,” was the only word which came out of the mouth of Higher-Status. All waited, but nothing else came from his mouth and nothing changed in his demeanor to make them think he would move.

When the wise men followed Shepherd Sam into the presence of Immanuel, his gift of speech returned. “So it’s all or nothing. This is what I hate about churches and doctrine. You are so caught up with this meek thinking that you miss the reality that it is the strong that survive in the real world. The weak and the meek are crushed beneath the boots of power. Mind you, I have not said that this child cannot be who you think He is. I will gladly bow at is feet if I can be assured that this is a winning cause. Prove to me He is a winner and I will worship, too. Is that asking too much?”

For other excerpts click on {Magi at Bethlehem} or {Balthazar’s Travel Companion}

For other messages and illustrations click on {Pastor B's Archives}

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