Did you know that the wise men of the Bible were ultimately unwise men? Their story isn’t a children’s story set in an elaborate Christmas pageant. It’s a story of persecution when Jesus was just a toddler. It’s a story that features drama and the genocidal slaughter of children. Christians living in the West have developed a faith narrative that represents the culture in which we live. Nik begins a multi-part series to learn how believers in persecution get the Christmas story right.
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The Wise Men
In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the glittering lights. There are festive decorations and the excitement of exchanging lavish gifts. However, Nik Ripken urges us to look beyond the commercialized version of Christmas and reflect on the profound message the biblical narrative conveys.
When we think of the Christmas story, we see a manger, wise men bearing gifts, and a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. But as Ripken points out, the narrative extends far beyond the idyllic scenes depicted in nativity scenes.
Ripken draws attention to the lesser-known and often overlooked part of the Christmas story. Herod was a killer. The story is a tale of persecution and the genocidal slaughter of innocent children. Nik invites believers to revisit the biblical account. He encourages us to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and sacrifices woven into the narrative.
The familiar story of the wise men takes on a new dimension when viewed through the lens of persecution. Instead of being characters in a children’s pageant, these men were courageous individuals navigating a perilous journey to find and honor the newborn King. The gifts they brought were not mere tokens of celebration; they were symbolic offerings recognizing the divine significance of the child.
Unwrapping the True Meaning of Christmas
Nik Ripken encourages Christians in the West to break free from cultural trappings. Consumerism often shapes our perception of the Christmas narrative. In our modern context, Christmas has become synonymous with extravagant gift-giving, feasts, and celebrations. Yet, Ripken reminds us that the heart of the Christmas message lies in selfless giving.
Contrary to the popular notion of receiving expensive gifts, Ripken emphasizes that Jesus is the central figure who received gifts in the biblical account. The wise men, recognizing the divine nature of the child, presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh—a gesture of profound significance.
The challenge for believers, according to Ripken, is to shift our focus from receiving to giving. Christmas, he argues, is not about accumulating material possessions but about offering our gifts and talents to God. Just as the wise men presented their valuable treasures, we can give of ourselves in service, compassion, and love.
Ripken’s message serves as a poignant reminder that the true meaning of Christmas transcends the glittering exterior of the season. It beckons us to reflect on the sacrificial nature of love and to emulate the example set by the wise men—individuals who, despite the challenges they faced, sought to honor and worship the King.
Nik Ripken’s Challenge for a Purposeful Christmas
As we navigate the holiday season, Nik Ripken’s perspective challenges us to reevaluate our priorities and embrace the spirit of giving. The real gift of Christmas, he asserts, is not found in the extravagance of presents under the tree but in the selfless offering of our hearts, talents, and resources to God and those in need.
Nik encourages us to embark on this Christmas season with a renewed understanding of the biblical narrative. May we be inspired by the wise men’s example, remembering that the most meaningful gifts are those given with love and humility. Our gifts mirror the ultimate gift of love: the birth of Jesus Christ.