We would probably make terrible substitute “Christmas Stars.”
If a group of “wise men” were seeking Jesus today and were looking to us as his followers to point the way, would they be able to find him? I’ve pondered that question recently as I’ve looked ahead to the celebration of Epiphany, the Christian holy day commemorating God’s revelation of God’s self to the world in the baby Jesus. By the time this is printed, we Christians will inevitably have moved past red coffee cups and Syrian refugees to focus on some other relevant (or not so relevant) cultural concern, but regardless of the issue the debate will remain the same: how best can we live out our faith as persons claiming to follow Jesus? Are we pointing the world towards Jesus or away from him?
Those questions are tough to answer, hence the seemingly endless series of squabbles that constantly dominate social media (at least on my news feed). These wars of words are usually waged by well-meaning individuals, yet the conflicts often degenerate into desperate attempts to discredit and demoralize anyone who disagrees with our point of view. It’s bad enough that we regularly treat other followers of Christ as enemies, but the most concerning casualties of such conflicts are those watching from the sidelines. How often have our harsh words convinced others not to associate with us or our churches? Is it possible that our fervent efforts to display our love for Jesus have in fact prevented others from experiencing Jesus’ love for themselves?
“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” (James 1:26, New Living Translation)
When we claim to follow Jesus we essentially adopt the role of the “Christmas Star;” it becomes our privilege and responsibility to point the world towards Jesus. May our words then become beacons of grace, mercy, and love that burst forth to bless (and not burden) our dark and desperate world. Amen.