God Welcomes Non-Churched 'Pagans,' Says Christian Editor on Epiphany
By Anugrah Kumar <http://www.christianpost.com/author/anugrah-kumar/
January 7, 2013|10:05 am
Eastern Europe's Orthodox churches Sunday celebrated the Feast of Epiphany
to remember Jesus' baptism, but for Western churches it was about the
appearance of the Son of God among us as one of us - and a reminder that
God's kingdom embraces the non-churched "pagan," as a Christian editor said.
Thousands of young men leapt into icy rivers and lakes across eastern
Europe, including Bulgaria and Romania, to retrieve wooden crucifixes cast
by priests - it is believed that the person who retrieves it will be freed
from evil spirits, according to The Associated Press.
"We the people are so like the sea," Romanian Orthodox Archbishop Teodosie
Tomitanul was quoted as saying at the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta.
"We hope that, as the sea has been calm until now this year, our souls will
be just as calm."
However, in the West, Epiphany - Greek word for "appearance" or
"manifestation" - marks the end of "the twelve days of Christmas" that
began Dec. 25 as well as has become identified with the arrival of the magi,
or pagan astrologers, who worshipped baby Jesus, as recorded in Chapter 2 of
the Gospel of Matthew.
It's a day Christians can recall a great irony, says David Mathis, executive
editor for preacher John Piper and the Desiring God ministry.
It is not only striking that the religiously uncouth magi sought to worship
the newborn Jewish king, but that the religious leaders of the day did not,
writes Mathis, elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., on
the Desiring God ministry's blog. "The pagan astrologers bow their knee
(verses 10-11), but the Jerusalem religious bow their back (verses 3-8).
This is the great irony in the Epiphany."
While we know that Herod was wicked - as he did not really intend to honor
the child but to kill him - "the subtle sin of the religious leaders is
perhaps just as sinister, if not more," Mathis says.
Herod asked all the Sadducees and Pharisees where the Christ was to be born.
"Here are the trained theologians of the day. They know the biblical jargon.
They've read and re-read and re-re-read the Hebrew Scriptures - and
memorized them . It's a piece-of-cake answer for these guys: Bethlehem.
Check Micah [in the Old Testament]." But none of them went to Bethlehem.
"Dirty shepherds leave their flocks and go to the manger. Pagan astrologers
traverse far, hundreds of miles and months on the road .. Their [religious
leaders'] heads are filled with verses, doctrines, and religious facts, but
their hearts reject the very Messiah to which their training should have
The Feast of the Epiphany should be a reminder to "the modern-day chief
priests and scribes, the religious establishment, the well churched" that
"Bible knowledge from all the classes and all the books can be precious fuel
for worshiping the true Jesus, or a scary excuse for keeping Jesus at arm's
length." Increased knowledge doesn't necessarily translate into increased
worship, he adds.
And to the "Magi" - the non-churched "pagan" and de-churched disenfranchised
- Mathis says, "Please don't let imperfect Christians scare you away from
the perfect Christ." "Let the astrologers come to Jesus, and do not forbid
them, for such is the kingdom of heaven."
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