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Kings and Neighbors

nations and kings

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” —Matthew 2:1–2

Is it possible to pity and envy someone at the same time?

He caught my eye at a Jeremy Camp concert. Not so much because of his Down Syndrome, but because of how he worshiped. While streams of colorful light illuminated the stage and music filled the summer night, most of the audience reclined in lawn chairs. Some sang along; others raised hands and closed eyes.

This kid though. He couldn’t sit to save his life. He knew every lyric; this was his song. And whenever the refrain came around, he’d punch his fist in the air and belt it out.

“He knows, he knows. Every hurt and every sting. He has walked the suffering. He knows . . .”

Now and then swiping at tears on his cheeks, he worshiped his savior like no one in the world was watching. At once I knew I was the one to be pitied. Now I had to wipe my own tears, as this kid ushered me into a deeper experience of God’s grace.

I tend to think of those three magi who crossed borders bearing gifts for the baby Jesus as robed in royalty. But to the Jewish people, they were unclean outsiders. Gentiles. Lesser-thans.

On that night divine, Jesus fulfilled the Isaiah 60:3 prophecy: nations and kings would be drawn to his light. He’d be savior to foreigners and neighbors alike. People who looked different. Cast-offs and cripples. Those who society didn’t esteem.

Anyone willing to fall on their knees.

Christmas is the end of thinking you are better than someone else, because Christmas is telling you that you could never get to heaven on your own. God had to come to you. It is telling you that people who are saved are not those who have arisen through their own ability to be what God wants them to be. Salvation comes to those who are willing to admit how weak they are. —Tim Keller

*Hey friends, 2016 will go down as one of the most exciting yet painful years of my life, and frankly I’m pretty wiped out and still dealing with low-visibility conditions. How about you? As 2016 comes to a close, are you reeling from the snowball effect of challenging life events? Could you use some more peace of mind and joy of heart? I hope you’ll join me as I reflect on John Piper’s daily Advent readings. In the days leading up to Christmas, you can receive these 25 short daily reflections direct to your email inbox. Just scroll down and look for the “Stay Connected” or “Subscribe by Email” box to follow along! Also, you can find and download John Piper’s “Good News of Great Joy” here. Jump in anytime!

I’ve chosen to commit to this 25-day challenge, even while I’m hanging here by frozen fingertips on the edge of an icy cliff, wondering what comes next. This I know: God’s got me, still. As the season ramps up–and your plans go wonky and threaten to derail your focus, ugh–I pray that your heart, soul, and spirit will be blessed and refreshed with a tangible outpouring of Christ’s heavenly peace!

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