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1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1–2 ESV)
Students strive for academic excellence. Many people look for love. Some friends hunt for money. Quite a lot people are searching for social status. Therefore, it is true to say, “Life is a quest”.
One of the famous Christmas stories is about the magi, who came to seek for the newborn king of the Jews.
1) The Proper Attitudes (Matthew 2:2)
According to church tradition, the wise men are three people, but the Bible isn’t clear on that. Who are these wise men? Most probably, they were priests among the ancient Medes and Persians. By using scientific, diplomatic and religious means, they tried to understand present and future life. Moreover, they served the kings as royal servants who performed mystical and astrological services. They came all the way from the east for one reason: to search for the birthplace of the newborn king. Although the wise men had high social standing, they were humble enough to ask the ordinary people in Jerusalem, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?”
The Attitudes of Christians
If you want to know and experience more of God, what should our attitude be? As God’s children, we should seek Him with a humble heart.
The Attitudes of Non-Christians
If you were a seeker of God’s truth, you definitely want to find out more about Christianity. The key to know more about God is to have humility.
Based on speculation, some Bible scholars reckoned that the wise men were from Babylon. It meant the wise men would take several months for them to travel from Babylon to Jerusalem. Also, traveling in the ancient times was very dangerous, as they would have to face robbers and wild animals. When the wise men found Christ, they “worshipped” Him. Worship is an act of allegiance or affection. It’s safe to say that the wise men were very sincere in searching for the newborn king.
Searching with Sincerity
The late American Baptist preacher, Adrian Rogers, said, “An atheist can’t find God for the same reason a thief can’t find a policeman.” If we want to know God, we must seek Him with sincerity.
Time and time again, I have heard seekers were offended by the behavior of many so-called Christians. Non-believers witnessed many churchgoers went to church to look for potential customers or potential spouses. Like it or not, there are insincere churchgoers around. However, the wise men were sincere seekers of the truth, as they came all the way from the east and worshipped the newborn king. We should learn from their sincerity.
2) The Proper Price (Matthew 2:1, 11, 16)
The Price of Time
11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (NIV 2011)Musicians have a lifetime quest for music, they have to spend a lot of time practice singing or playing their musical instruments. Time is one of the many prices that they have to pay for their love of music. According to some Bible scholars, there is a time gap between the opening of Matthew 2 and Matthew 2:16. The gap is about two years. Pay attention to verse 11, when the wise men met Christ, He was already a child instead of a newborn baby. The wise men sought for Christ by paying the price of time. They spent at least two years in searching for the newborn baby. Can you imagine they have been away from home for at least two years? Nobody is born to be a Christian. It needs time to know the Bible truths and it takes time to experience God’s presence and provision. If you wanted to become a believer, you must hang in there and spend more time in understanding the Christian faith.
The Price of Money
For the sake of seeking the Jewish King, the wise men paid a great price. They brought valuable gifts so that they could offer them to the Jewish King. Money was the price that they paid for the pilgrimage. They could have encountered robbers on their journey. The wise men were willing to pay the price of searching for the Jewish King. Some earnest seekers want to know more about Christianity. They don’t want to miss Sunday worship that they intentionally look for the jobs that they don’t have to work on Sunday. In short, they were willing to pay the price of knowing more of Christianity? How about you?
3) The Proper Goal (Matthew 2:2)
As students, as workers, as professionals, we should set the proper goal. As for the wise men, searching for the Jewish King was their goal.
The Quest for a Better World
At the end of every year, many hopeful people wish the world would become a more peaceful place. And by their own efforts, these commendable folks tried very hard to make the world to become a better place. But, some of them have become disheartened. They said, “The world is full of sufferings. How can we have a perfect world?” Some extremists would even say, “The existence of evil and suffering in the world certainly proves that there is not a loving and powerful God.” With this kind of logic, some people concluded that if there were a good and loving God, for sure there wouldn’t be evil and suffering in the world.
Questions about Evil
I want to respond to the above assumption. If God destroyed all the evil in the world, there won’t be any human beings remained on earth. The reason is simple, there are no perfect human beings on planet earth.
The Origin of Suffering
Where do sufferings come from? C.S. Lewis reckoned that over 95% of all suffering in the world can be traced back to the evil actions of human beings. If we built cities near active volcanoes, when disasters occur, we simply cannot blame God. According to Lewis, most suffering is self-inflicted. If citizens can purchase guns easily, unavoidable tragedies would happen, right?
The Quest for a Perfect Church
Some Christians pursue for a perfect church on earth. Are perfect churches existed?
A Church without Problems
Is there a church free from problems? Is there a church without any wayward church members? Is there a congregation without any empty pews? Is there a church without any internal struggles? Is there a church without gossips? Therefore, the quest for a perfect church is pretty pointless.
No Hypocrisy in the church
Some followers and friends reckon that many Christians are hypocrites. They said, “If I find a church that is free of problems or hypocrites, I will immediately join this church.” Some people humorously said, “When you find the perfect church, don’t join it, as it will then no longer be perfect.”
No Perfect Churches
Why are there no perfect churches around? There are no perfect churches, because all are made up of imperfect sinners.
The Quest for Pleasure
As for some people, the quest for pleasure is their only goal in life. We call this kind of pleasure-seeking lifestyle hedonism. What is it all about? In a nutshell, pleasure-seekers are determined to avoid pain but to seek pleasure only.
Normal people don’t like pain. Pain is unavoidable. Pain exists everywhere. As babies learned to walk, they fell, they hurt themselves, pain! When relationships turned bad, pain. Since the day we are born, we have experienced pain and will continue to do so till the day we die. I like the saying, “No pain, no gain.”
Pleasure is Short-lived
Numerous men and women like shopping. Shopping gives them pleasure, but the satisfaction is short-lived. They have to wait for the next shopping spree to give them pleasure. Many people like to eat. Eating gives them pleasure but the satisfaction wouldn’t last forever. All I want to say is that pleasure is short-lived and we shouldn’t seek only for pleasure in life.
The Quest for Money
Many people say, “Money is not all powerful, but without money, we are powerless.” Many people regard money as a god. Many simply worship money as their god.
In Dallas, Texas, here are the words on the billboard advertisement for a savings-and-loan association: “We Lend Happiness at Eighteen Locations.” Does money really provide happiness?
Money and Happiness
A person wisely said, “Money is an article that may be used as a universal provider of everything—except happiness!”
The Quest for Self-worth
People are searching for self-worth. What is self-worth? Some people call it self-esteem.
Three Root Causes of Low Self-worth
What are the root causes of low self-worth? Here are the possible explanations: abusive neglect, repeated failures, and sin.
If a child encounters abusive neglect, he or she will reckon that he or she is unimportant. Let me give you an example. When a son who comes into a room wanting to ask his father a question. Instead of answering the question, the father turned his son away because he was watching hockey on television. By acting like this, the father had sent a negative message to the child that he was no better than a hockey game.
If a person continues to experience failures, his or her self-esteem is usually low.
Sin. Unforgiven sins lead to guilt. Sin erodes our lives. It takes away our self-worth. Also, a person with a guilty conscience will find it very difficult to forgive others freely or to accept admiration, love, or forgiveness from others.
Traps of Low Self-worth
As human beings, we can easily fall into the traps of low self-worth. There are three traps that we must avoid. The first one is the trap of appearance. The second is the trap of perfect performance, and the last one is the trap of status.
The Trap of Appearance
Quite a lot of people think their appearance mean a great deal to them, and even regard their appearance as the source of their self-worth. However, this is very wrong. Perhaps, you are good-looking and have a perfect body, but external beauty will not last forever.
Overly Short or Tall
The height of a person affects his or her self-image. Overly short or tall people would be disturbed by their height. A little boy came up to his mother one day and told her that he was eight feet, four inches tall. His mother was greatly surprised. She inquired into the matter and found that he was using a six-inch ruler to measure a “foot.” The kid was actually only a few inches over four feet.
Some tall girls feel uneasy too. As for Asians, girls of six feet tall are pretty tall. A girl of six feet tall has good looks who can take up the career of modeling, but with her height, she is concerned if she can have a boyfriend. With the four-inch high heels that she’s wearing, she is taller than most gentlemen. According to my understanding, most males don’t like their girlfriends or wives taller than them.
Overly Thin or Fat
Numerous people are conscious of their appearance. An overly thin person might have low self-esteem. An overweight person might have low self-worth as well.
Plastic Surgery in South Korea
South Korea is famous for cosmetic products and cosmetic surgery. A survey stated that one of every five women in Seoul between the ages of 19 and 49 said they had undergone plastic surgery. To many South Koreans, cosmetic surgery is a means to improve their self-worth.
The Trap of Perfect Performance
Some people spend their entire elife pursuing perfection. They wanted 100 points for everything that they did. Of course, the pursuit of excellence and perfection can be a good thing, but when people equate perfection with self-worth, then the pursuit of excellence would become a trap to them.
The Trap of Status
Some people wrongly think that the social status is their self-worth. Sadly, social status has entrapped a lot of people. Eleanor Roosevelt, the former U.S. first lady (1884–1962), says it well, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
The Quest for Love
Whether you are young or not, we all want to experience love in this world. We desire to be loved, but also cherish the feeling of being loved. For the sake of love, many world celebrities and Hollywood movie stars paid a high price. They mistakenly thought that love could be found in marriage, but they were very disappointed consequently. Many have ended up in divorce and multiple remarriages.
The Trip to Canada
Several years ago, my wife and I went for a trip to visit our relatives. And on the way back to Canada, we had an unforgettable experience. During the flight, the airplane that we flew on encountered severe turbulence. The aircraft had repeatedly dived rapidly many times, and caused the flight attendants very nervous and afraid. She yelled at the top of her voice, ordering the passengers to fasten their seat belt. Many passengers were very afraid and they screamed. The rough ride caused the poor baby who sat behind me vomited. I was very calm, turned around and looked at my dear wife. I held her hand and said, “Perhaps it’s time for us to meet the Lord.” We were not afraid of death. We were grateful that God has joined us together as husband and wife, and we both found love in each other, but the most important thing is that, we had already received Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
Christmas and the Cross
The Lord of Christmas is the Lord Jesus. He was born for a reason. He came to seek for the sinners. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, meaning that He is God. He loved us so much that He chose to be born in a manger. He loved the world so much that He chose to be a carpenter’s son and lived a simple life. He loved the world so much, that at the age of 33, He died on the cross for the sins of the world.
The Wonderful Gift of Love
The Bible states that our most basic spiritual need is to receive forgiveness from God and our most basic emotional need is to have self-worth. We have a great need for worthiness. When we are forgiven, we will have a new understanding of ourselves. When we know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, we understand that we are priceless in His eyes. The love of Jesus Christ is very amazing. Our life will change instantly when we could experience the love of the Lord Jesus. When we have found love, we will have security. When we have found love, we will have hope. When we have found love, love will grant us confidence to face tomorrow. This kind of supernatural love can only be found in the Lord Jesus. Dear friends, do you want to experience His love? Believers in Christ, let’s share His love with the people around us!