Light Has Dawned?
Light Has Dawned?
I think it’s safe to say that you and I live in challenging times. Maybe not so challenging that we can’t have and experience the best that life has to offer. We’re not an impoverished people or a destitute people by any means. We’re blessed, and we live in the amazing grace of our Lord. I’m convinced that life is better than we often want to admit. But we can’t ignore the darkness either.
We live in a day of war and rumor of war... A world where hatred and division are the natural order. In big cities, and sometimes just around the corner, people shoot one another in the streets.
We live in a world where people are exploited for profit. Human trafficking is real... and because we live midway between Montgomery and Atlanta, law enforcement and social workers alike tell us we’re in a “hot zone” for the modern slave trade.
We live in a world where the children and elderly have to lock themselves in their homes for fear of crime. We live in a world where if a stranger is friendly you automatically wonder what they are up to.
But I have good news. The Bible says that God is light, in whom there is no darkness at all. And the light of Christ is shining in the darkness.
Fred Rodger’s (aka, Mr. Rodgers) once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Our faith calls us to be the helpers... right? To be the light...
Jesus came to the darkness of first century Galilee and shined the light of the Gospel. And Jesus called others… Andrew, Peter, James, John… to walk along-side him, helping share the Light with others.
Down through the ages God’s Light has shined in the darkness. John the Baptist was imprisoned by evil men: that’s darkness. The early church was persecuted, Christians were being fed to animals and burned alive and crucified: that’s darkness.
But God’s Light continued to shine... even through the martyrs, who literally died for the glory of God. And the Light spread... despite the fact that many were forced to live their faith and practice their religion underground. Like in China, today.
When the church was drowning under a flood of distorted theology and corrupt leadership in the 16th century God’s Light shined through Martin Luther and John Calvin and other reformers. When war was consuming the world during the 20th Century, the Light shined, as the church led the way, helping those effected, but also pressing the government to focus on peace. And when freedom and basic human rights have been restricted... the Light of Christ called the Church to lead the way; breaking from tyrants, demanding fair treatment; and over the centuries Christians have shined the light of God's truth on the darkness to advance civil rights while being a voice for the voiceless.
And what is this light that was shined? It was Christ himself! And his message? "Repent!" The word means to turn around. In the Greek, it literally means to change one's mind. But not in the sense that one might change their mind to have tea instead of coffee. Rather it is radical transformation of the mind. The Greek word for repent is related to the word "metamorphosis." So it is a metamorphosis of the heart and mind.
So radically change inside, but why? Because the “Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" What does that mean? It means God is establishing his rule in our midst. His Kingdom of love and light… His kingdom of mercy and grace and forgiveness! And those who follow Christ are part of this Kingdom of God! And as part of God’s Kingdom… we have forever, in Christ, overcome this world and its darkness… we are son’s and daughters of the Light! And we’re called to share that light everywhere with go… with everyone we meet!
So the light that shines in the darkness is the Good News of God's reign in our hearts and lives.
Of course, the light can’t shine unless we open ourselves to it’s radiance. You and I have to first turn to God in Christ, and accept his Lordship in our own lives: we need to trust God’s Word and put our faith in his power to transform - and make all things new. We need to open our hearts and minds so that we can receive the light, the forgiveness, the grace, the peace that God offers us in Christ. And once we’ve humbled ourselves, and surrendered our passions and desires to the Will of God... we’re freed to live of life of love and light... we can then share HIS Light within us, with those who need it most.
Of course, sharing the Light may be as simple as being kind... sharing kindness, being gracious and compassionate. It may mean, helping meet some physical need for someone less fortunate. It could be offering a shoulder - a hug - a ear...
Sharing the light most often involves using our experience - as we’ve walking through the darkness and challenges of life oursleves - to help another navigate the darkness of their own life.
But sharing the Light always, always means offering the One who loved us first, and loves us most, Jesus, with a world that needs Him more than willing to admit.
Let us be the Light for others... Let us share the Light with others... for Christ’s sake.