The Apostle Paul reminded the Christians in the Macedonian city of Philippi of two profound truths about their times. He said they were living in a "...crooked and twisted generation...", and that their faith should shine as lights in that dark world. He wrote in his Epistle to them---
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation,
among whom you shine as lights in the world.
Philippians 2: 14-15, ESV
It was a crooked and twisted generation in many respects. Making a list sounds like reading from the local news today---severe racial tension, a government in transition, religious discrimination and persecution, cultural and societal pressures, economic stress, and a catalog of moral and ethical question marks that shadowed everyone with layers of uncertainty. They were a crooked and twisted generation indeed. But, the Apostle understood the influence of light in that darkness. He knew the Philippian believers would project a clear and certain witness to their out-of-sorts world.
Shining as lights was an ancient Jewish concept which Jesus spoke to his followers in the Sermon on the Mount---
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light
a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 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: 14-16, ESV
Having traveled the below sea-level highways around the Dead Sea I have seen the penetrating reflection of a city on a hill. It is visible for miles because the city lights are projected so clearly. In the Sermon on the Mount the metaphor of light portrays the witness of the Christian life, that is, the clear and vivid influence of a yielded life and servant spirit. This light communicates the wattage of a changed life, the high resolution of good works that honor and glorify our Heavenly Father. The clarity of this light is about vision, mission, and purpose. Paul challenged the Philippians with this image, one that would connect with them immediately.
Ours is a crooked and twisted generation too. This culture is darker than most of us think. Many pundits are predicting the most trying political season in American history over the next thirty-two days, and days of unrest, perhaps serious danger, in the aftermath of the election. Christian friends! It's time for us to shine. Yes, we should speak and voice our opinions with the mind of Christ. More than anything, however, we should "...shine as lights in the world".
We learned it as children. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
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