Most people are unaware of many of the real details of the Christmas story. Most notably they do not know that the Magi were not present on the first Christmas night. The ones we call the Wise Men arrived several months, possibly as long as a year or more after the event. We know that they were men of some political influence because they were granted an audience with King Herod and were rich from the gifts they gave to Mary and Joseph. It is uncertain how many of them there were. Given their wealth and influence, they probably traveled in a large caravan with many servants and guards. They were also men of learning and well educated to have known that one particular star in a heaven filled with stars was unique and that it would lead to a great king.
However, although they were not there to witness the birth of Jesus, their faith is astonishing, nonetheless. It is my belief that the star they would follow appeared on that miraculous night of the nativity. I can imagine them gathered on the balcony of a large palace in Bagdad or some other splendid eastern city, possibly eating a meal and enjoying fellowship with each other. They saw the star and determined that they had to go and see the ruler who had so much favor in Heaven that a celestial body announced his birth. Think of the faith it took to undertake a long journey that was not without obstacles and danger and came at a personal cost as travel was not cheap.
Their faith was so strong that they believed the little baby they found in Bethlehem, though of a humble family, was destined to be not only a king, but a might king. It was demonstrated by the fact that they presented to the child the expensive gifts they brought with them then obeyed God’s warning not to speak to Herod about what they had found. They risked their own lives quietly leaving Judea as they did because the Jewish king was known for his vindictive nature and intense cruelty toward his enemies.
For those looking back to an event which took place over 2000 years ago, their faith should be an inspiration. They believed, even though they saw nothing more than a star in the sky. Then they acted on that faith.
As a writer, I never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Therefore, like most people, I have the three wise men in my annual manger scene. In commemorating the first Christmas, I recognize the faith of all who believed in the miracle of that night, especially several men in a faraway city gazing up at a star.
Recently, I attended an event with hundreds of people; front row seat. I was in to it, those around me were in to it and then I looked to the side. A few front row seats down, a young woman was on her cell phone. Okay, sure, I thought, she might have received a text or email and was responding then would rejoin us enjoying the live moment. Nope, she was surfing the social networks.
I tried to refocus on the event, but my attention kept getting drawn over to the woman. For the entire length of the event, almost two hours, she stood and sat and stood and even clapped with the rest of us as if she was a part of what was happening around her. Nevertheless, at no point did she put down her phone and only glanced around on occasion. Instead, she giggled, chuckled and smiled at what was occurring on her phone. A few times, her fingers flew as she responded to a post before flipping to the next page.
However, this story becomes stranger. A month later, I once more encountered her at a similar event. We appear to run in similar social circles. Again, she pulled out her cell phone before things began and started to peruse her social contacts. As before, she went through the event connected to her phone and tepidly interested with what was happening on stage. My assumption was that she checked-in as attending so that she had the post on her page then turned to internet interacting; the cyber world seemed to carry more fascination for her than the real one.
More than likely, the young woman believes that she has an active social life. Sadly, she does not.
Being connected is one of today’s marvels. I appreciate the security of having a cell phone and knowing that my wife and daughter have them when they are out-and-about or traveling. It is great to have the ability to contact family and friends when and where it is necessary. Also, modern cell phones can give directions, find places and save the time of going from store to store in search of goods and services. It allows people to conduct business or do their jobs anywhere and everywhere. However, like anything that has value, when improperly used beyond moderation, it can become more a danger than an asset. I would suggest that being too connected is the new addiction, harmful and detrimental to the metal health of those caught in its grip.
As with any addiction, becoming too connected is a difficult habit to break. The very real risk of individuals caught up in staying connected is becoming isolated in cyber cocoons.
As Paul noted in 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NASB) “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” Use your cyber connection to enhance your life, not become your life.
"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" John 8:31-32