After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2
At the risk of spoiling your nativity scenes, here are the facts about the magi (separated from the myths): (1) they probably were not kings, (2) we do not know how many there were, (3) they never saw Jesus as an infant, nor the manger, nor the shepherds, (4) we do not know their names nor their nationalities. We actually know surprisingly little about them. The sum total of what we do know, we learn from 12 small verses of scripture in Matthew’s gospel. That is all. But it is enough for us as peacemakers to continue to learn some important truths from the Christmas story.
These magi (however many there were), were apparently scholars and apparently familiar enough with Jewish prophecies to understand that the “king of the Jews” had been born. They were also men of science, familiar enough with the night sky to recognize a star which did not belong there. They were also shrewd seekers of Jesus, not thrown at all off track by Herod’s deception or malicious intentions. These are all good qualities for peacemakers.
Peacemakers among God’s people are students of the Word. I know I’ve already made this point in this series, but it bears repeating. The truth of God’s Word is critical to peacemaking in His church. Peacemakers therefore immerse themselves in the Word regularly…even in all the woes and warnings of Old Testament prophecies.
Peacemakers study the landscape of relationships and recognize things that do not seem to fit. This is so much where the giftedness of peacemaking comes in. We just have a gift for understanding what normal relationships look like, even with a “normal” amount of dysfunction and heartache…so when we see “abnormal”, it sticks out to us like a big red flag. We see the expressions and hear the comments which simply do not add up. We see the evidence that something is going on that is not as it should be…and we follow that evidence until we find the source. The appearance of the star in the night sky mobilized the magi. The appearance of broken relationships in the church mobilizes peacemakers.
Peacemakers look for Jesus, even in strange places. It is not so much about asking “What would Jesus do?” It is more about asking, “Where is Jesus now and what is He doing now?” We learn to hear God speak through unusual places. We learn to seek after the Spirit in every “player” involved and we learn to lean into people to find Him. We learn that His still, small voice comes more often in the “babies” and the “children” among us than from the loudest speaking grown-ups. And when we lose our way in the conflict, we patiently wait for the next night sky so that we can see a clear sign (again) from God. He is, after all, faithful and true to point the way if we are watching and waiting.
This Advent season has been a special season for me. I’ve never before seen all the lessons for peacemakers in this amazing story! I am praying that your Christmas brings you peace and that God draws near to you in exciting new ways!