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God Welcomes Non-Churched 'Pagans,' Says Christian Editor on Epiphany

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  • John Brian
    God Welcomes Non-Churched Pagans, Says Christian Editor on Epiphany By Anugrah Kumar January 7,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 16, 2013
      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
      pointed them."

      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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