WE ALL NEED SOME LIGHT

John 1:4 -5 “What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; and the darkness couldn’t put it out.” (MSG)

John 1:9 “The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light” (MSG)

I love this section of John 1. It is so full of hope for not just believers but for the whole world. Christ’s life is the contradiction of darkness. And darkness comes in so many forms touching so many lives. When we are confused we say, “I am in the dark”. When we despair we say, “These are dark times.”

What this passage is declaring is that the Messiah came to bring life into the light of every person. There is a spark of the divine in each one and with it comes the hope that we don’t have to be despondent.

When God created everything the Bible says that God saw light as good and brought it OUT of the darkness and God’s desire for all of us is to have the hope that light can bring. God shed God’s light on the darkness of the souls of the world when Christ entered in to us. With God’s work in our lives there is no way for darkness to overwhelm us. Maybe I should say that we all face dark times, even as believers, but in the midst of that darkness is the reality of the light of Christ. If we don’t FEEL it then my encouragement to all of us is to believe it, believe that God’s Kingdom is a Kingdom of Light.

Look at what the Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 1:13. “God rescued us from the dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much…” (MSG)

We all have places of darkness in our lives. We can probably name them to ourselves right now. There are places of brokenness and hopelessness. Maybe times when we willingly walked into darkness. There are situations where our darkness prevents us from seeing tomorrow. But please know, and I am saying this to me as much as anyone, that Christ sees tomorrow, all of our tomorrows. His light dispels the darkness ahead. I believe that. So much in Scripture affirms that.

At the time of Christ people had run out of hope and those who sat in darkness were waiting for hope. Maybe you are or someone you love is. I know for sure that there are a lot of devastated people in the world who need a little light right now. If it’s you then receive these promises in the passages above.

And there are people who need whatever light we have received through our own understanding of Christ. They need hope. They need people to stand with them against the darkness. It may be through money, our prayers, our presence, and certainly our proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

In this New Year I am hopeful that more light will be seen, received and lived in this world that God loves so much.

TRUTH STRANGER THAN FICTION

True story. The scene: a day recently in public classroom of 1st graders. The assisting teacher is told not to speak of Christmas or Santa due to politically correctly guidelines. “Ok. Sad. But Ok,” She thinks. Her daughter is one of the first graders as is little 6-year-old Johnny.

One day Johnny is in a small group with six girls. He says, ‘wanna hear something?”

He counts down, ‘three, two, one,” and then blurts out “f_ _ _”. “Whoa,” thinks the assisting teacher. She speaks to the head teacher who cautions her to be careful about censuring Johnny for his language and repercussions it might have with the family.

So let’s let this straight. The teacher can’t say Christmas or Santa, but ‘f_ _ _’ is an acceptable politically correct sword.

Well, the assisting teacher did tell Johnny that while it might be acceptable to talk that way at home (and maybe not), in front of his classmates it is unacceptable. Period. I think next year the little girl will be going to private school.

BUT…the good news is that while folks may wonder what is happening in our world there are people like the assistant teacher who are a ‘light for the world’ as Jesus mentions we should be in the Sermon on the Mount.

While there is much that goes awry in our world there is much that is good. Now, a small group of us have taken to pray for Johnny (not his real name but God knows him and loves him.)

The world in many ways experiences a darkness of the mind. Thank God for a mom who brings some light into the darkness. Oh, that reminds me of a verse from Isaiah 1:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light” (speaking of the time when Christ would come into the world.)

May God in this season grant such light on ALL of us. And may the name of Jesus be introduced into Johnny’s life with even more strength and endurance than some of the other words he has learned. And may Johnny and all of us discover more deeply the love of Christ. Amen

THE DARKNESS DOESN’T UNDERSTAND

John 1:5: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (NASB)

I like this rather literal translation of John 1:5. It means that when Christ came into the world, as light, the darkness had no idea how to handle him.

If you have ever been in a bar you will notice that the lights are very dim. The thinking is that people enjoy pleasing themselves with alcohol in a place where it seems they are not so seem.

But the great think about Jesus is that he came to enlighten the world and let us see who we are even in our bad times and let us know that no matter who we are we are loved. The darkness doesn’t know what to do with that.

Darkness has sort of a life of its own; calling people to live for themselves.

When Jesus enters the world the darkness cringes because any amount of light dispels the darkness.

When I was young and afraid of the dark I always had to have a nightlight, just one little light on in the hallway somewhere letting me know I was safe. There is no darkness that can overcome a nightlight. When you light one little candle the darkness goes away. The darkness, if can talk to itself, says, ‘Now what do I do? I can’t make the light go away. I have to go away and look for a place where there is no light.’

But Jesus is the light of the world, the whole world and there is no place that darkness can overcome him. Oh, we can close the door, run away from the light but it will always be there and sooner or later the light will find a way into the darkness and the darkness will once again say, ‘Darn, now where do I go?’

The scripture says that Jesus is the light that enlightens every person. That’s good news because it means that in every corner of this world the light of Christ shines and people will see it and run to it knowing that in the light they are much safer than in the dark. And even our sins that will be discovered in the light will be forgiven by Christ.

On this night there are many candlelight services demonstrating how little lights dispel the darkness. Tonight we celebrate the death of darkness even as we celebrate the birth of Christ and the light. Run to the light. He is our only hope.

And don’t worry. No matter how dark your or my situation or that of the world, once we receive the light, the darkness will once again be stumped, hang its head and disappear.

 

 

Freedom

Romans 8:21  ‘that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.’ ESV

Here’s my take on what Paul is writing in these verses. Yes, creation is groaning. The world is groaning but one day it will experience the same freedom and new life that the children of God are experiencing today.
This is the reality of the Kingdom of God. The creation will take its cue from those who enter the Kingdom of God right now. Jesus said that the truth will set us free if we stay connected to him and to his word.(John 8)  It is the only way to be free of the shackles with which this world wants to imprison us. In John 16 Jesus tells his disciples that while in the world there will be tribulation we don’t have to be afraid because Jesus has overcome the world. Overcome in the sense that darkness and death do not have the final world. Fear is not the final word. The word of God in Jesus is the final word. The Kingdom of God is the final word. Resurrection is the final word. LIFE is the final word.

Jesus said to a hurting world that he had come to give life abundant (John 10) which means that we are fully embraced into the love of God by the words and works of Jesus.
We are free. Really. No matter what scene the cosmic powers of darkness may put before you eyes, God places the life and light of Jesus before us so that as we look into him we may experience the glory, the radiance of our God. And as Paul will later write, ‘if God is for us who can be against us.’ So, children of God, let’s set a good example to help free this creation from its bondage to decay.
That’s like a New Year’s resolution- if you are into that sort of thing. My life will not be darkened by the world but will rather be that light set on a hill, light that comes from the glory of God.