Light in Darkness

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness He called ‘night.’  And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day” (Genesis 1:1-5).

“God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.”

From the beginning of time.  From Creation.  From the word “go” (literally).  Light is separated from darkness.  They are opposed to one another.  Where one is present the other is not.

The Apostle John proclaims, “God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5b).  Christ boldly declares, “I AM the Light of the World” (John 8:12).  And in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to be spiritual light in a spiritually dark world: “You are the light of the world!” (Matthew 5:14).

We are called to be light.  Light in a world of darkness.  Why is it then that we so often toy with darkness?  Why is it that we too often concede and rationalize and justify any relationship with spiritual darkness?  With that which is spiritually opposed to the God we serve?

The Apostle Paul writing of the spiritual tempo of our lives asks, “What fellowship does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14b).  Light and darkness are enemies.  The presence of one defies the presence of the other.  How is that we can so easily walk out of spiritual light and into darkness?  Is our faith so shallow?

In Ephesians 2:8 he asserts, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”  He doesn’t even say, “We were once in darkness, but rather we were darkness.”  Outside of God.  Outside of His light.  But in Christ Jesus, our reality has radically changed.

Colossians 1:13 declares, “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves.”

John affirms our calling in Christ and challenges that if we “claim to have fellowship with God and yet walk (live) in darkness we lie and do not live by (in) the truth” (1 John 1:6).

The call is just that.  To accept and live into the calling that we have in this life in Christ Jesus to be light in a spiritually dark world.  A city on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14).  A lamp on a stand that gives light to all (Matthew 5:15).

Where there is light, darkness scatters.  In our lives and in the lives of those we influence to the glory of the God we serve.

Glory to God!

Jason

choices

Joshua boldly declares to the people of God, “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Elijah goes before the people of Israel assembled at Mt. Carmel and asks, “How long will you waver between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21).

We make choices every day.  We have the God-given ability to choose.  We choose to either hit the snooze button or wake up.  We choose to wear green or blue.  We choose our route to work (or allow traffic to make the decision for us).  We choose where we have lunch.  To have a fifth cup of coffee.  Paper or plastic.  To be or not to be (ok, maybe I’m getting a little too philosophical)… but you get the idea.  We choose.  We make choices all the time.

Some daily choices are pretty minor.  They don’t impact the grand scheme of life greatly at all.  Other decisions are earthshattering.  Will I choose to love my spouse today?  Will I be patient with my children?  Am I going to be faithful to God?  These are major daily decisions.  To love others.  To be kind to others.  To be faithful to God.  Major decisions that somehow, too often, get lost.

God chooses.  He chooses to love.  He chooses to forgive.  He chooses to be near.  His nature and being are such that “light” and “love” define Him (1 John 1:5, 4:8).  He is constant.  He is unwavering.  And He chooses.

God grants us the ability to choose.  To choose Him.  To choose faith.  To choose faithfulness.  But He does not fail to empower us to choose the way He desires.

The design of the Gospel of Christ reveals the choices of God.  He could have redeemed mankind any way He desired.  He is God.  He is sovereign.  But He chooses the cross and resurrection of Jesus.  The Gospel teaches us not only of a Savior who willfully came to earth and emptied Himself and gave His physical life for our spiritual lives, but also enables us to see the choices of a wonderful God who chooses.  And who chooses us.

God gives us His Son and His Spirit and His Word and His church.  Why?  So that we may choose.  And so that we may choose Him.

What if these were the three choices we intentionally made every day….

1) I am going to be faithful to God.

2) I am going to love others.

3) I am going to be a viable part of the Kingdom.

What if these were the choices you made today?

Glory to God!

Jason

john and the Word

John the Apostle’s words and writings are some of the most precious to me.  Of course it’s kind of like asking a mother who her favorite child is….  I love, love, love the Prologue of the Gospel of John (Jn 1:1-18).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning” (Jn 1:1-2).

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of mankind” (Jn 1:4).

And so here’s John’s wonderful thesis: The Word (Christ) was.  He was!  He was with God.  He was with God at the beginning of time.  During the creative process as the world is formless and empty and the Spirit of God hovers above the waters – John affirms, Christ is there!  And then, the Word became.  He became!  He became one of us.  He lived among us.  The living Word stepped into humanity and changed us forever.

You see the Word was, and the Word became.  And because the Word became, we have life!  Spiritual life.  Eternal life.  Life that is truly life.

And as I read John’s literature and come to understand the Word who was and who became and who gives life, I begin to see why John focused so much upon Christ’s love.  John’s the one who records Jesus’ beautiful words: “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).  John is the one who pens: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God” (1 Jn 3:1).  John is the one who affirms to us: “…God is love.  This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His One and Only Son into the world that we might live through Him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 Jn 4:8b-10).

John can never even bring his pen to call himself by name.  What does he always refer to himself as?  The disciple that Jesus loved.  Why do you think that is?  My guess is he could never get past how much God the Father and God the Son loved Him.  And so he always saw himself through the love of God, revealed in the Word who was, and the Word who became, and the Word who gives us life….

Glory to God!

Jason

the cause of redemption

“God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Love is a quality that we develop.  We learn how to love.  We learn love from our parents and grandparents.  We learn love from those who love us along the way.  As we fall in love and marry we learn to love our spouse and learn love from our spouse.  Tiersa and I have in many ways “grown up” together because we came to know one another at such a young age.  As we look into our newborn children’s eyes for the first time we experience a love that gives us such insight into the love of God (although we’re certainly content to let grandma and grandpa give us a rest as often as they like!).  Through life, through experience, through trial and error at times, we learn how to better love – and what it means to love.

And yet we often wonder, “How could God love us?” Or perhaps even closer to home, “How could God love me?” But I think as honest as these questions are, they don’t quite have a full grasp of God’s love.  Or, the reality that the Apostle John unveils to us: “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16).  Love is not a quality that God has learned.  Love is who God is.  God reveals love because He is love.

God does not love us because we are easy or difficult to love (although through relationship we oftentimes find ourselves either closer to God or distanced from Him – but this is our doing, not His!). God loves us because He is God. He is love. Love is who He is. Love is His character. His nature. The reality that God is love is as unchanging as He is. God’s love is not drawn out of Him by us, rather, it flows from Him constantly.  Steadily. Why? Because God is love.

“God so loved…” (John 3:16) not because we were loveable, but because He is love. Christ did not die for the world so that God might then love us. Christ died because God loves us. He died as the ultimate revelation and realization of God’s love for us. Love is not the result of redemption, it is the cause of it….

Glory to God!

Jason