As we begin to learn more about the life of Jesus, his ministry, and the values and truths that he taught his disciples, (or, more accurately, as we learn more and more how much we have yet to learn,) we start to notice things that we otherwise would not.
“Little Drummer Boy” is a tune that I can remember hearing throughout my childhood. The song has been repeated to me, usually around December 25th, for as long as I can remember, (occasionally accompanied by a silly stop-motion animation boy and reindeer,) but I never really listened to the words. Even on the occasion that I would try to listen, my mind registered nothing but the continual “pa rum pa pum pum” that permeates every line.
I listened to the song again recently, and a number of things jumped out at me, and I thought I’d share them. So I’ve copied the lyrics below (sans “pa rum pa pum pums”) and added notes to highlight what I have to come to see as a very important and impactful son.
Come they told me
A newborn King to see,
Our finest gifts we bring
To lay before the King
(Here, he’s putting himself in the same group as the famed wise men who followed the star and the instructions of the angels who appeared to them. Thus, he is saying that he was there with the wise men, as the next lines say, to honor the newborn Christ and stand in awe of his presence.)
So to honor Him
When we come.
(Being there to witness the event of his birth is the only reason they are there.)
I am a poor boy too,
I have no gift to bring
That’s fit to give our King
(This is one of the two lines that struck me the most. The drummer boy knows that the little child before him is a king among kings, a lord among lords. He realizes the truth of the position of baby Jesus, even then. He also realizes his own position, as a poor boy, a human, who possesses nothing of any possible worth to the splendor that the Messiah would deserve. This is an accurate reflection of where we stand with Christ in the eternal spectrum. Religion tells us to impress God, and to act in a manner in which we might earn his favor, and thus salvation. But anything we could do, under our own power, for the god of the universe would be of no significance at all to that god. It would be almost an insult to God to offer to him something we had done and expect it to be actually worth something to him. Romans 8:8 says it very clearly: “… those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”)
Shall I play for you!
On my drum.
(We all have “drums,” as it were. Not necessarily an actual drum, but we have skills that we can use to advance God’s will on earth. Some of us are gifted disciplers, others teachers and preachers, others with the gift of serving, and still others with the gift of encouragement. There are many other ways we may serve the kingdom, with our occupations and our skills we have already acquired. Such as a mechanic, a lawyer, a professor, an artist, a musician, or any number of other skills. The division of spiritual gifting is described in 1 Corinthians 12, “On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” Thus we are all able to be used by Christ, and we cannot claim uselessness to him.)
The ox and lamb kept time
I played my drum for Him
(Here we find the completion of the aforementioned thought. He knows that Christ does not want his good works in return for his salvation, for that is given freely to him, and he knows that there is nothing that he can do to earn it. But he also knows that Christ has work set out for him to do. Likewise, do all of us. As mentioned before, all of us our gifted, and we can pray to become even more so. As is said in 1 Corinthians 12:29-31, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.”)
I played my best for Him
(‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:16. We are to either be for God, and for the advancement of his kingdom on earth, or we are against him. He knows our hearts, and knows if we are serious about following him, and giving our lives for him. He will honor what is true. If we decide we want to do all that we can, and give all that we are, for him, he will reward us greatly here on earth, giving us joyous, fulfilling, excellent lives. Lives with real significance and real, tangible, eternal purpose.”)
Then He smiled at me
Me and my drum.
(This is how we can please god. By knowing that we cannot ever accomplish anything of our own power to impress or please him, and by surrendering our lives to him in a spirit of waiting on him. All of this is relating to the second decision that Jesus people are faced with after they accept Christ. “What do I do now?” Do I follow him? Or do I go back to my old life, and live as if nothing has changed?)
With all his heart, God hopes that we will choose to follow him and know more about him, and thus we will have a purpose, and a fulfilling, useful life. For this is why we were forgiven. We were not saved from eternal separation from God to only go back to our old lives.
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” – Galatians 5:1