Today across the Church world we celebrate what they term Epiphany. This marks the continuing Christmas story, which traditionally ends in February with Candlemas. We need to approach the only one motive of the Magi, in visiting Jesus, the baby, of recognition and worship. When we must go to the truth of the Magi visit, we know that Jesus was 2 years old at this point. Why Joseph and Mary stayed in Bethlehem is not clear.
Recognition must be precise for there to be true worshipWorship is a true experience of approximation
I believe there is a true crisis, and a true opportunity to come through it. The crisis is the way we have deviated from true worship. We have equated music style, professionalism, skill, contemporary words. I wrote a piece concerning worship about 2 years ago concerning what Satan is doing again, by diverting all attention from Him who deserves our worship. The Magi in the story knew who they were to visit was a King above all others. They sacrificed time and effort to visit the King of kings. We have formulated worship being a 20 minute segment in the Church meetings to prepare our “feelings” for an upbeat preach. This is the experience of modern charismatic independent churches. For the more historic there may be some sense of this worship. We all need to approach afresh the whole thing of worship. Worship is not just singing, or preparing, creating, manipulating feelings for the preach. Worship is about approximation to the One who should be the focus of our worship. However we must know what that approximation will mean. For us to do this we must see who is beyond us, before us. This confusion of Jesus’ person is what causes us to never plunge into the place of true worship. True worship in Scripture provokes a divine response.
Psalm 2 says the Father placed His King (Jesus) on His Holy Hill. He has exalted Him, therefore He is worthy of our worship. Our worship is not just what we engage in liturgically, but a lifestyle with consciousness of Him being beyond, before all of our decisions. He is above and beyond all of our lives, and invites us to make Him the centre of our daily lives. That means there has to be a renunciation. For that renunciation we see that submission and obedience are no longer choices but duties. The duties of the subjects of a King is prostration and subjection. Now with society pushing personal preferences in terms of identity, self determination in terms of one’s life goals, this concept will be alien. We submit to noone, and we submit to nation’s laws at the minimum. True subjection, surrender are concepts we have forgotten beneath the trends set in motion since the Renaissance. The cult of the individual has moulded modern society. God desires to cut us free from these human constructs. Our worship begins and ends with the affirmation of who Jesus is. Once we decide to gaze upon Him through the words of psalms and songs, we profess who He is to us. Then we reposition to where we are no longer the centre, nor our needs, nor our wants. This repositioning is the culmination in each mode of worship throughout our lives. Worship is placing Jesus in our lives where the Father has placed Him in all of creation.
Our worship flows out to reflect who He is in our giving of ourselvesThe gifts of the Magi were specifically reflecting on the true Person of Jesus, Prophet, Priest and King.
We have dealt with these gifts in one of the chapters of this series, and how they reflect Jesus’ mission and person on the earth. However when we apply it to the flow of worship offered from our obedience, our spiritual journey where our focus is in Him, on Him, for Him. We begin to see that from our innermost being in the recognition of Him, He becomes manifest because we are preparing the sphere with our reception of Him. Our reception of Him can only happen as we recognise Him. In this outflow so as we offer that which reflects Him, we see Him form in His Fulness as Prophet, Priest and King, as well as being Saviour and Judge of all the earth. We see examples of this in the Church of Scotland involvement in the Revival in the Hebrides. Their worship and heartfelt seeking of God for 5 months brought the powerful presence of Jesus into the islands. Many were convicted of sin, but the fact remains is that God, Jesus became the centre of life in those islands. There is a urgent need for this again, especially now, in the fact that mankind is walking in paranoia because of situations and crises that smell of death, yet this is the gateway and opportunity for new life. I have a conviction that for the Church to face what is coming, we must not have Church as usual but centre our times with prayer for the nation, seeking that same visitation of the King. This can only happen when we understand that worship is recognition of Jesus and making Him central.
What we must embrace is that He that is beyond us Has an agenda that we are part not the whole but the small part.
Much of what I understand about the end times things is not the part we play as being the crucial factor, rather there is a programme that God the Father set in motion on the Day of Pentecost 2000 years ago. On that day God inaugurated the unseen temple that shall manifest when Jesus comes again. That agenda is to remove evil and its agents from all existence, and create a new heaven and earth, united and no division between physical and spiritual. We are but a small part of this work. Our worship shows how great and beyond He is. Our worship grasps that great plan. That plan once glimpsed shows the majesty of Jesus, the King. It also repositions us in the context of that plan, a very small part. There is so much talk about narcissism today, in which the cult of the individual has made the individual the centre of the universe, but when a pandemic comes along, disasters, famines, man is incapable of resolving it without fear.
The Magi were men of faith, because their journey was not about them, it was about the King. So our journey of worship cannot be about us, our needs and aspirations. It must be about Him, and in placing Him in the centre we see Him form through our worship.