Posts tagged ‘truth’

Light in the Darkness

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.   John 1:5

I had recently moved to southeastern Washington from Illinois and was excited about the prospect of backpacking. So after much thought and research, I decided to go to the north side of Mount St. Helens for my first backpacking trip in the Northwest. I arrived late in the afternoon with two of my adult children. We only hiked about two miles when darkness quickly descended upon us necessitating that we pitch our tents at a spot beside the trail. We were able to get a bite to eat and find our way into our sleeping bags before we were engulfed in darkness. And I mean total darkness. It was a cloudy night. There was no light from the moon or stars. In fact, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.

Fortunately, we all had flashlights. But the battery in my light had nearly lost its charge. My light was very dim, and yet it provided all the light I needed to see that dark night. On the other hand, the battery in Kelsey’s light was fully charged. Her light was much brighter than mine making it much more effective at seeing every detail of the terrain around us. But when she inadvertently shined it directly into my eyes, I was totally blinded. 

I learned a valuable lesson in life that night. The brightness of my light is not as important as how I use my light. Jesus is the Light of the world. When I accepted Jesus into my life many years ago, His Light began expelling the dark thoughts in my mind and the selfish desires deep in my soul. Little by little the darkness continues to leave my life. I wish I could say all the darkness was completely gone, but it’s not. The truth is, I still have plenty of selfish desires and sinful thoughts. And yet herein lies the value and the proper use of the Light of Jesus in my life. He gives me His Light to illuminate my path. He gives my His Light that my life may be happier, brighter, and filled with peace. When I am walking next to a fellow traveler in life, my light can help us both as long as I don’t use it against him or her. 

You see, it is when I decide to turn the Light onto my fellow traveler, to shine it in his or her eyes, that the precious gift of Jesus becomes a blinding force rather than a precious gift. We too often want to use the Light of Jesus to illuminate the sins of others thereby using His Light as a judgment in their lives rather than a ministry of reconciliation and love. When I am tempted to argue the “truth” with a fellow traveler, I think about that night on the north side of Mount St. Helens. I remember how it felt to be blinded by the light that would have otherwise helped me find my way, and then I remember to use God’s Word to shine Light onto the path and not into the eyes of the one next to me. 

May we remember why Jesus has given us His Light as we read in Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. 

Is Love Enough?

But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.  Acts 8:4

A few weeks ago I saw a picture of a Christian in Syria with a rope around his neck as he stood on a wooden box. He was about to be hung by the ISIS extremists for being a Christian. The man was smiling. It was not a smile of defiance, but rather one of peace, love, and compassion. As I looked at the face of this man, I knew he was much more than a Christian, he was a disciple of Jesus. 

Christian is a name given to people who are disciples of Jesus by those who do not believe in Jesus. The word Christian was first used by the people of Antioch (one of the Roman Empire’s largest cities) to describe those who followed Jesus. You can read about this in Acts 11:26. Jesus, however, calls us to be disciples, followers of Him. The issue is that Christianity is a religion that has been organized around the teachings of Jesus. But a disciple is person whose life revolves around the love of Jesus. One is based on teaching knowledge about God. The other is based on living in relationship with God. 

These two concepts do not need to be in opposition to one another. When I think about it, I actually want to understand someone I love. I want to know what he or she likes and what makes them happy. When a person I trust tells me that yellow is not my color, I choose to avoid wearing yellow shirts. When someone I love gives me a necktie, I find myself wanting to wear it at every opportunity. However, when a stranger whom I just met at a dinner party tells me that yellow is not my color or that I need a new necktie, I do not respond favorably to such information. In fact, I might find myself wearing yellow shirts just to prove that I am not bound by such a person’s opinions.

So when I read Acts 8:4, I know there is something pretty amazing about Jesus. When His followers were put into prison, tortured, and even killed, those who survived did not go into hiding, but rather told everyone who would listen about the Good News. But what is the Good News? It could not have been that you would be persecuted if you believed in Jesus. There had to be something they were sharing that was compelling, something more than facts and data and teachings. Could it be as simple as love? Could the Good News simply be a love story? Could the most compelling concept in the world that can cause a man with a noose around his neck to smile really just be a 4-letter word – LOVE? In a word, yes!

When all we have is love, we have more than we deserve and can give more than we have. When all we have is love, our hearts are united with the heart of God, our darkness is turned to light, our misbelief is turned to truth, our discouragement is replaced with courage, and our weakness is replaced with power. I don’t care if you call me a Christian, but what I really want to be is a disciple of Jesus. 

Tag Cloud