False Worship vs True Worship
In the story of the Magi’s visit to Bethlehem, the matter of worshiping Jesus comes up twice. In the first instance, Herod expresses his desire to “go and worship” Jesus. In the second instance, the Magi “bowed down and worshiped Him.” The first instance is a matter of false worship; the second is a matter of true worship.
In the first, Herod’s desire to “worship” Jesus is actually an attempt to capture Jesus, so as to do with Jesus what he wants to do with Him, to make use of Jesus for Herod’s own plans. That’s the essence of false worship.
It’s what we are guilty of when we use the Bible as a means of justifying our opinions or validating our personal preferences rather than letting God direct our hearts and our minds and our lives through His Word.
It’s what we are guilty of when we claim the grace of God to excuse our sins rather than confessing our sins and seeking God’s help in turning away from them.
It’s what we are guilty of when we take advantage of the various benefits of our faith without making any of the sacrifices or commitments of our faith, when we demand God’s blessings on our lives while neglecting God’s call to us to be faithful, to obey Him, and to serve others in love.
Such false worship inevitably ends up where Herod’s scheme ends up: With the attempted annihilation of Jesus.
But when the Magi come to Jesus we find a picture true worship.
It begins with the Magi bowing down. True worship involves bowing ourselves before God, recognizing that God is higher than I, and submitting myself to being under His rule.
True love involves adoration, falling in love with the person of God with the whole of our being!
Then the Magi presented to Jesus their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
True worship involves sacrifice. The mindset that clings to what we have is never the mindset of worship. True worship involves the sacrifice of our time, our resources, our attention, our energy, our grudges, our ego, our sinful urges, our will, our lives.
True worship involves trust. True worship involves entrusting ourselves to the care of God. It recognizes that what is dear to me is always handled better when it is entrusted into God’s hands than when I cling to it myself.