On Christmas Eve I attended a worship service at my church as I do every year. I went with my family and had a great time seeing and talking with people that I don’t always have the chance to see or talk to. The format of the service was a few worship songs, a sermon delivered by our pastor, followed by another few worship songs. The last song on the worship set this year was a very well performed rendition of Drummer Boy, a song I’m now realizing I’ve overlooked for quite a long time. My initial reaction was disappointment. To me, Drummer Boy was just a fictitious Christmas song popular in American culture that had little to do with the good news of great joy we all celebrate this time of year. I preferred the idea of ending our Christmas service with a song that I thought might have been more explicitly worship-oriented (because it’s all about me, right?), not a song about some pretend boy who liked drums. As the afternoon progressed, I found the song to be stuck in my head. While the well known lyrics beat through my mind over and over again I began to realize I had severely undervalued the importance of the message it carried. It was a song I’d heard countless times. It became so familiar to me as a child that I never stopped to assess the parallels between the life of the drummer boy and my own, or the amazing truths the song seemed to hide in plain sight. I opened Spotify on my phone to listen to the song played by a band I enjoy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPAoTaM4p2E) while I drove to my parent’s house. As the band sang some words I’d formerly taken forgranted I found myself overcome with joy:
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum
There, in the midst of sundry pa-rum-pum-pum-pums, was the heart of the gospel. I am a poor boy with nothing suitable to bring the King. The same moment those lyrics crossed my ears I was abruptly reminded of the indescribable grace of God, and the way that He loves me, even though I’m not worthy of a second glance. While I’m fortunate to be able to count myself a disciple of Jesus Christ, even my best works are about as clean as a polluted garment (Is. 64:6), and the faith I do have in Christ is a faith that must be given to me by God (Eph. 2:8), because in the depravity of my natural state I would do nothing but defy Him (Rom 1). Perhaps even more humbling, is that being fully aware of the truth of God, His love for me, and the expectations He has placed on my life, I am still prone to turn away and knowingly enter into things that are sinful, preferring something temporary and worthless to the glory of the almighty God. I cannot even imagine the depth of these cosmic acts of treason. Yet here I am, eternally loved and valued by the one whose face I’m so prone to spitting in.
When I think about the Christmas narrative, I often find myself shocked and a little bit terrified when I consider what comes next in the story. The King of the universe, the one who created and sustains all things, the one who is eternal and eternally worthy of endless praise was born among us. He was born among us, walked in righteousness, demonstrated perfect love to all people, and we killed Him. Not only did we kill Him, we subjected Him to one of the most gruesome deaths imaginable after an endless torrent of mockery because He had the audacity to suppose that He was our king. Our response to meeting our maker, the most glorious and worthy being that has or ever will exist was to kill Him, and we all contributed. Neither you, nor I, were present at the execution, but the death of Christ was necessary as atonement for the sins you and I commit. You and I are as much responsible for His torn flesh as the executioner.
The fact that God saw fit to rescue a people so destitute and wicked through His own death is completely unimaginable. I tremble as I type this, wholly unable to fathom the idea that a King like Jesus saw fit to humble Himself and lay down His life for a person like me. Someone who was not only denying the need for forgiveness, but living in active defiance and hatred of His reign. This salvation is the unimaginable love of God! This salvation is the thing to which even the angels long to look (1 Pe. 1:12)! The angels in heaven, who know God and have lived in perfect communion with Him can’t get enough of the incredible glory of God demonstrated in the rescuing of His people! It’s unbelievable! Through the life and death of Jesus Christ, God restores people to Himself, that we might be privileged to know the extreme joy of serving our King!
This Christmas, it would seem I have nothing suitable to bring my King. He is the creator of all things, and is not in need of anything I could ever provide Him with. How could he be? In fact, I’m dependent on Him for everything that I do have. While I find immense joy in learning to walk in holiness and glorify my creator, even those things are granted me by God Himself. However, God loves me enough to show me the purest joy in the honor of glorifying Him. He makes me happy in the pursuit of Himself, and He accepts my praise even from my most humble position. God knows me, loves me, and delights in even my admittedly pitiful small steps of obedience. He died that He might give them to me, and I celebrate the day.
And so here I am. A poor boy with nothing to give the King. Yet He desires my song.
This is good news of great joy.