So I hear the Miss Universe pageant was pretty awesome. I don’t really keep up with much in the pageant world, but of course, I saw Steve Harvey get only the second-highest ranking answer to the question, “Who won the Miss Universe pageant?” That wouldn’t be so bad on Family Feud, but on this night, it was not a very good answer. I’m sure you’ve seen the awkward footage.
But perhaps the worst part is the gal who momentarily thought she had won. She smiled and cried—real or fake, who can say? But for those moments, she was certain she had arrived. And then the title and the crown were stripped from her, and she was left just sort of standing there.
When I watched it, I couldn’t help thinking of the passage from the Matthew 7:
21″Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22″Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23″And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
She thought she had won the day. She had the crown. She had the world’s applause. She was probably preparing to do the whole fake-wave thing—you know, where you wave but it isn’t even a real wave, one where the goal is connection and interaction, but rather the thing where it is just sort of what you do with your hand when you win a pageant. All of that happened, yet, at the key moment, she hadn’t really done the things necessary to win.
Now, of course, this is metaphor. That poor beauty queen—er, I guess, princess?—was put in an awful spot which was not her fault. But in the moment, that is all I could think of, how it would feel on that day, sauntering in before Jesus, maybe fake-waving at Him and assuming it is time to receive my reward. And then hearing, “depart from me, I never knew you.” Steve Harvey’s correction had to be jarring to that young woman just then . . . Can you imagine the voice of Christ with a prize that is so much more precious?
But—and with Christ, we always get a “but”—there is hope. And the hope comes from knowing Him. And we can know Him because He came to us. This very time of year, we are reminded that we can shout Immanuel and mean it: God with us! Christ came as a babe thousands of years ago so that we might see him, feel him, know him. He put on a crown of thorns, so that we might wear a crown of glory.
Believing that, in Him, is how we know Him. As we know Him more, we believe more, and our faith is credited to us as righteousness, His righteousness. So as the wise men did all those years ago, let us follow the light to Christ this holiday season. Let us march west toward a new Eden, a paradise who came and dwelt among us, who died for us, raised for us, intercedes for us, and who calls us home to glory that cannot ever be taken away.
Merry Christmas . . . God is with us.