“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” —Psalm 139:23-24
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but do we look forward to Christmas because of all the festivities or because of who Jesus is? John 1:10 says, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognise Him.” How is it possible for a nation that was praying and asking for the Messiah to come, for people devoted to the study of Scripture, and for those who eagerly wait for the light of the world to come into the created order, to not recognize, see or receive Christ when He finally came?
This is alarming because it reminds us that we may be encountering the true Light, the Creator and the Maker of all things and not recognize Him when He is standing in front of us. How could this happen? The Old Testament prophet Isaiah, who prophesied 700 years before the arrival of Christ, reveals the reality of who Jesus is, His ministry and even details of His crucifixion. In the last quarter of his book, Isaiah calls Israel’s attention to the true heart of worship.
Isaiah 58:2-3 says, “For day after day they seek Me out; they seem eager to know My ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God....‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and You have not noticed?’ Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please...” At the surface, it is a good thing the Israelites are eager to know God, but beneath the surface, God exposes their corrupted heart of worship. Although they appear eager on the outside to know God, it is just ceremonial.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 points, “I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.” We can get caught up in religion and not see Jesus. The Pharisees in the New Testament were supposed to be experts of the law and devoutly religious, but their hearts were far from God. That is why when Jesus appeared before them, they did not recognize Him, because He was among the oppressed, the hungry and the poor wanderer.
This Christmas season, we can slip into the trap of going through the familiar motions, but may we take time to reflect on our true worship before God.
Lord God, I confess of times when I worship You with lip service but my heart is far from You. Help me this Christmas season to draw near to You in true worship.