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Drawn By the Light
January 6, 1991

MATTHEW 2:1-11

There's a hundred-year-old Swedish story about a country doctor who came to a farmhouse one night to help deliver a child. While the woman labored on a kitchen table, her husband assisted the doctor by holding a gas lamp. In due time, a fine baby boy was born. Then, to the surprise of both parents, the doctor announced that a second child was arriving, a lovely daughter. The father was quite shaken by this unexpected turn of events, and you can imagine his astonishment when he heard the doctor say, "Hang on. I think there's a third. I think we have triplets." At this, the father began to back out of the room. The doctor hollered, "Hold it! Come back here with that lamp." "No way," said the father, "It's the light that attracts them."

Another set of three, the Wise Men from the East, were also attracted by the light. They followed a star until it led them to Bethlehem where they found and worshiped the Messiah, the Christ. The wise men were probably Zoroastrian priests. Zoroaster was a Persian prophet who roamed throughout what is now known as Iran preaching a Gospel of Light. There are only about 120,000 Zoroastrians living today, most in Bombay, India, where they fled one thousand years ago when the Muslims invaded Persia.

The Zoroastrian priests arrived in Jerusalem asking, "Where is he who has been born king of Jews? For we have seen his star." Zoroastrians believed that every good man has a guiding light in the heavens that appears in the sky as a star when he is born. The greater the man, the brighter the star. Stars have long fascinated humankind. There were those in the Roman Empire who shared this belief in personal stars, and broadened it to include everyone. According to Daniel J. Boorstin in his book, The Discoverers, they believed (pp. 87-88) each person had his own star--bright or dull, according to his station and his destiny--which was illuminated at his birth and disappeared at his death. A shooting star, then, might signify some person's death. "Were there then only two stars at the time of Adam and Eve," wondered Bishop Eusebius of Alexandria in the fifth century, "and only eight after the Flood when Noah and seven other alone were saved in the ark?"

Perhaps there is truth in the myth, as there are truths in most myths. There may not be a star in the heavens that coincides with our birth and death; but, perhaps we are each stars, shining, giving off light, to which some people are attracted and from which some people are repelled. The greater the person, the brighter the star, the Zoroastrians believed. How bright is your star? How brightly or how dimly are you shining? To what are people attracted by your star? To what are people drawn by your light?

The wise men, drawn by the light, came to Bethlehem, following the star, to see and worship the new king. They came in hope. They came with expectation. When they found him, they were overwhelmed with joy, and generously offered their gifts.

People today are still looking for the light; searching, traveling, yearning for the light. How many are following your star, attracted by the light of your life? And what are they finding when they reach your Bethlehem? When they arrive at the source of your light, the focus of your life, what do they find?

It is our message that the light for which people are looking, the same light the wise men followed, is the light of the world which came in Jesus. John 1:4-5, "What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." John the Baptist's father prophesied about the birth of Jesus, Luke 1:78-79,

By the tender mercy of our God,

the dawn from on high will break upon us,

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the

shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.

How relevant are those words today as we pray and work for peace in the middle East! How the world is looking for a light to guide us in the way of peace.

Our message to the world today is, "Hey, world, the light is already shining. The light has come into the world. The star is still there. The Messiah, the Christ, the Savior, the hope, the light has come, and we know his name!"

But, where does Christ's star shine today? Where is the light of Christ shining? Where does a desperate world look for light, look for hope, look for the way of peace? Where do the suicidals find hope? Where do the lonely find friends? Where do the addicts find release? Where do the abused find love? Where do the discouraged find a new start? Where is the light of Christ shining today? Where is the star of Bethlehem today?

The sobering answer is: you. You and I who claim Christ's name, we who call ourselves Christians, we who are the church, the body of Christ on this earth at this time, we are the bearers of Christ's light, we are his stars. Did you ever dream of being a star, of going to Hollywood and becoming an overnight star, with your name in lights, sought after by autograph hunters? Well, you are a star. Jesus said to his disciples, said to you and me, Matthew 5:14, "You are the light of the world."

I've been trying to remember a ditty from my youth. It went something like this,

Christ has no hands, but our hands

To do his work today,

Christ has no feet, but our feet,

To guide folks in the Way.

The only Bible many people read is your life. Edmund Burke once said, "Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other." Someone said, "A mediocre teacher tells, a good teacher explains, a superior teacher demonstrates; but the great teacher inspires." Are people inspired by you?

I repeat the questions I asked a few minutes ago. How bright is your star? How brightly or how dimly are you shining? To what are people attracted by your star? To what are people drawn by your light? Are people drawn to Christ through you? Are people drawn to the church because of you?

This is an intriguing image. Try thinking of yourself, looking at yourself as a star, shining brightly, attracting people. The purpose of your life is to attract people to Christ, to guide folks on the way of peace to Bethlehem where they will see the star of Christ, and will worship him.

We have an awesome responsibility to be the light of the world, to shine the light of Christ in this dark world. Awesome, but exciting. How do we shine the light of Christ? How do we get a bright star shining through our lives that does credit to Christ and indeed attracts people to him?

1) We are not expected to produce the light. That's a relief. We are not the power plant producing light. Our role is to reflect the light of God, not produce it. Actually, we are more like the moon than stars. As the moon produces no light by itself, but reflects the light of the sun, so we reflect the light of God. By turning to the sun, or I should say, the Son, we reflect Sonlight. "Turn your eyes upon Jesus," goes the hymn. Keep your spirit in touch with God through constant prayer. Keep your mind focused on Christ by constant Bible reading and study. Keep your heart filled with the love of God for you and the world. Then, you will reflect the light brightly. In John 12:36, Jesus said, "Believe in the light, so that you may become children of light."

2) The light of Christ shines through your good works. After Jesus told us we are the light of the world, he said in Matthew 5:16, "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." Notice, when the light is shining brightly, people are not necessarily drawn to you because of your good works. They are not expected to praise you, or congratulate you, or tell you how wonderful you are. The anticipated result of your good works is that those who are attracted by your good works will give glory to God.

3) The light of Christ shines through truth. In John 3:21, Jesus says something very interesting, "Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." Live by the truth. Truth and honesty are words we hardly hear anymore, much less experience. The old adage, "You can't believe what you read in the newspapers," is now broadened to include magazines, radio, television, advertisements, and the government. We now expect lies. Coverup has become a household word since the Kennedy assassinations, Watergate, Iran-Contra affair, etc. We have become lazy, hiding behind, "They know what's best," and "it's too complicated to understand." As bearers of the light of Christ, we should demand to know the truth, and be willing to seek out the truth. As stars of Christ, we must be among those rare individuals who love the truth, speak the truth, and live the truth. People of the light are honest in their dealings, truthful in their speech, and zealous in their quest for truth.

When the Nazis searched Martin Buber's apartment, they asked him if he had any revolutionary literature. Buber went to the shelf and handed them the Bible. How the world today desperately needs the revolutionary ideas of the Bible: the truth shall make you free, love your enemies, God is love, blessed are the peacemakers, you are the light of the world. How the world desperately needs the revolutionary example of your life shining brightly, a beacon of hope, illuminating the way of peace.

You are a star, an honest-to-goodness star! How bright is your star? How brightly or how dimly are you shining? To what are people attracted by your star? To what are people drawn by your light? Are people drawn to Christ through you?

© 1991 Douglas I. Norris