Light in the darkness, aggressively
Most believers know and many regularly pray what has been traditionally known as the Lord's Prayer. This prayer was the model prayer Jesus taught his disciples when instructing them about practicing their righteousness publicly. Perhaps it was the first prayer many of us learned. The Lord's prayer is profound in it's simplicity and expressions of trust, gratitude, and worship of God. Each word and phrase is poignant. One sentence has been a special plea from my heart for many years---
Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10, ESV
How fervently the Christian community has prayed for his Kingdom and will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Sadly, biblical truth warns us that it will not be, that is, until Jesus returns and establishes his kingdom forever. Being reminded of this truth seems significant right now as we observe and seek to comprehend the depths of human depravity in recent events. Right now politicians, media personalities, and even many church people are diagnosing the murderous spirit so visible in the American culture in the catch phrases of our times---racism, hatred, envy, greed, murder, gossip, rumor mongering, dissension, division, and so many others as evidences of mankind gone wrong. They are horrid no doubt. But, they are all symptoms of that much more pervasive depth---the total depravity of man. We live in a fallen world. It is getting darker by the day because of continued secularization and removal of those basic truths about God from our national psyche. Several thoughts register for me in these times---
1. Mankind is totally depraved.
Since the Garden of Eden ours is a fallen world. Many Scriptures support this
contention but none more effectively than Romans 3:23, "for all have sinned
and fall short of the glory of God". Our observations and responses to what is
happening around us involves this given: we live in a fallen world.
2. Fallen mankind is redeemable through faith in Christ.
God's love is another constant. We are created in his image (Genesis 1:27) and
he has provided the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins in the person of Jesus
Christ, our Lord. Jesus is the only way out of what we deserve for our sins, that
is, death (see Romans 6:23). Jesus said, "“I am the way, and the truth, and the
life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). He is our only
3. Lawlessness increases to fallen humans.
Jesus said, "And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will
grow cold" (Matthew 24:12). This is another symptom of our fallen nature, the
increase of lawlessness. With lawlessness on the rise, the love that should
condition us toward him and one another will grow cold, meaning there will be
less of it manifest in our relationships.
4. The Christian community must remain humble and submissive.
Christians must respond appropriately to this fallen world. We must resist
retaliation, revenge, anger, harsh language, and other emotional reactions to
the vitriol of the times. At the same time, we must not demonstrate a prideful
arrogance or superiority in the face of growing darkness. Jesus warned his
disciples about the dangers of sanctimonious attitudes in our approach to this
dark world. We must remember what Paul wrote, "“None is righteous, no, not
one" (Romans 3:10). Also, we should know that our righteousness is but filthy
rags before God (see Isaiah 64:6). Humble submission to Christ is our fit
response to this dark world.
5. Christians are sent to be light in this dark world.
Jesus said, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they
may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven"
(Matthew 5:16). The circumstances of a dark world should not define our
engagement with that world. He further declared, "Peace be with you. As the
Father has sent me, even so I am sending you" (John 20:21).
That sinful nature, the total depravity of man, is a shadow that follows each of us every moment that we live in this fallen world. I don't know about you, but this reality haunts me every day. Being his means that I must reflect his Lordship over me as lawlessness, hatred, racism, and all the other marks of the times happen around us daily. Peter wrote, "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us" (1 Peter 2:12).
What does this mean for me? Three words repeated in Matthew 5:16 and 1 Peter 2:12 are my personal conviction point right now. Both verses contain the phrase "...they may see...", meaning that my light or Christian influence must be plainly visible. It means I must be more aggressive in letting my light shine in this dark world. That translates for me into intentional actions and voice that introduces kindness, love, acceptance, unity, compassion, empathy, and understanding into my relationships with others. Silence and apathy just can't fit this conviction.
It's how my light must shine in this present darkness.