Shine

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)

God has called His people to shine in the earth. More to the point, He has called us to allow the light of Christ within us to shine through us. The world needs a clear, unfiltered, and unfettered witness of the glory of Christ lived out in the life of the believer. The scriptures say that the Kingdom of God is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (see Romans 14:17). Thus the Kingdom of God is not best represented by angry people who are only known for what they are against, but by people who are living a joyful, gracious, abundant, and purposeful life of significance.

It is true that in recent times our nation has moved further away from her historical Christian heritage. Secularism is on the rise and is certainly the predominant ideology in our institutions of higher learning and in our media. We are bombarded by a thousand voices a day telling us how we are supposed to think and speak, so as to conform to the current ethos of the modern day thought police, who judge what is right and acceptable by whether it matches the prevailing cultural mood. Since right and wrong have been traded in for moral relativism, our culture today not only tolerates but celebrates what only a generation ago would have been universally condemned as profane. This is thought by some to be “progressive,” but to me it calls to mind the old story of the emperor’s new clothes, where group think so dominated the King’s court that it took a “fool” to finally point out what everybody could clearly see but no one had the courage to admit. I think more of us need to be willing to be called foolish by those who have proposed that we leave God behind, because the truth is, the modern ideology that is driving much of our culture has no clothes!

One thing should be clear for all to see. A nation divorced from absolutes will flounder. With no north star to hold her to a steady course, such a nation will soon be lost and discover and that those who were manning her helm were but blind guides. True leadership never comes by taking the popular pulse and deciding accordingly, but by the courage of real convictions based on the recognition of what is right and true. There is a dearth of such courage in many segments of our society today, but there are those who are fighting back against these secular ideologies that are undermining our national spirit, and we, the Church, must take this opportunity to shine like never before.

Never has the opportunity for the Church been greater! If the harvest fields were ripe when Jesus admonished his disciples to “lift (their) eyes and look at the fields,” then they are many times riper in our day (see John 4:35). The fact is that anyone holding on to an unbiblical worldview has espoused that which is untrue, and whatever is untrue will ultimately disappoint, since it does not correspond with reality. In other words, God made this universe, the world in which we live, and everything in it. He set the laws in motion that govern our reality, and just because a few men, or even a society, decide that up is down and right is wrong, doesn’t mean the universe will realign itself to oblige. All false paths ultimately lead to a dead end, and we must be ready and positioned to speak to the unanswered need of the human heart when, like the prodigal son in the pig pen, the lost man comes to himself.

There is a hunger for reality in the heart of man. He may go about his search backward and be blinded by the enemy of his soul from clearly seeing the truth (see 2 Corinthians 4:4), but the honest, searching heart will search until the answer is found, and God will reach out to that man or woman to reveal Himself. Today there are many testimonies coming out of Muslim nations of men and women to whom Christ has revealed Himself through dreams and visions. God will respond to the hungry heart, wherever it is found, and I have heard many a story of someone who found Christ through a simple prayer asking God to reveal Himself to them.

However, what the world must NOT see, is a superficial, disingenuous witness for Christ that belies in action what it professes in word. We must be who and what we say we are. If our heart has been transformed by the love and grace of Christ, our behavior should demonstrate that transformation in every regard. In fact, if indeed we are allowing the light of Christ to shine through us, we should require little advertising of ourselves as men and women of God. Like the light of a lighthouse cutting through the fog on dark and stormy waters, our life should clearly point men to the reality of the One who likewise rescued us. It is the quality of our Spirit-filled lives that paves the way for our Spirit-empowered witness. We earn the right to speak into the lives of men when we shine. We don’t have to “make” God sound appealing. If we are exemplifying Him by the lives we live, the world will be able through our witness to “taste of the Lord, and see that He is good.”

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16).

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