There is an urgency and significance to grasping, assimilating, and embracing the message Pastor Larry is sharing right now. Rediscovering the Gospel. Rediscovering the Good News. Rediscovering Jesus.
The companion part of this is to be able and willing to articulate the same revelation to those around us. It’s critically important that our active embrace and transformation do not result in a pool of pleasant-but-stagnant water, carefully contained and managed. Rather, it needs to be a rushing river, with these golden nuggets creating ripples and splashes of renewal and revelation that gush out of us and splash heartily onto those which whom we have contact and influence.
Why is this such a vital component? Why should this “teaching” not be intellectually assimilated and then shelved as “another interesting exegesis” of Scripture?
Because of the difference between Life and death.
Because of people. The people God desired fellowship with from the beginning of creation. The people Christ died and rose for. The people already reconciled to God, but unaware and living in the darkness brought by deception.
The clarity – and high stakes – of this dynamic walked itself to my doorstep last weekend:
A neighbor came over to ask for prayer because their teenage daughter had received a diagnosis of lymphoma and within the next four days the doctors would operate. After that operation, she would receive chemotherapy and all that comes with it. This is her year to be a high school senior – Senior Prom, Homecoming, graduation.
In her grief and distraught state, the mom shared her 11 year old son’s tearful question: “Mom, is God punishing my sister with this cancer because I killed a squirrel and I shouldn’t have?” The boy is learning to use a recently purchased airgun, and unintentionally had pegged a nearby squirrel during practice. That is the connection that came to his mind as he pondered the why of this terrible affliction. After lamenting her son’s view of God, my neighbor then turned the focus on herself and asked if God was punishing her for a lack of consistent church attendance.
A god who is vindictive and punishing. A god who demands “jots and tittles” of obedience or responds by dousing them with a generous dose of misfortune and suffering. The perception of a god who would heap great mental and physical anguish as “just retribution” over an accidental mishap in which the receiver had no part…these are the mists through which His Light must penetrate… the mists which we who bear the Truth of His Spirit must dispel.
This is the fog we often must push aside to see and encourage one another, as well – just as Jesus did. Jesus first proclaimed, “I am the Light of the world.” (John 8:12, NASB) Through indwelling us with Himself, He passed the Light for us to carry, as well, for He stated, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matt. 5:14,15, NASB, italics added)
Picture the second image in your mind – that light on the lampstand. My first image is of a giant LED lantern suspended over a picnic table while camping, and it illuminates a moonless night into several adjoining campsites, even down to the lakeside. The light is so bright, in fact, people complain that they want it turned down so that they can be absorbed back into the darkness they had. My second image is of carrying a tall, golden, jewel-adorned lampstand through the streets; the lampstand is topped with a dazzling, star-like brightness at its top, and the light flows freely across the people, the storefronts, the path ahead. An image that reminds me of Proverbs 4:18, “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” (NASB)
What does your image of the light on the lampstand look like? I suspect you have one. If you don’t, He will give you one. I also suspect that each one of us has a “house” that potentially represents a large number of people, all wandering through varying degrees of misty misperception, misinformation, rejection, perhaps even hopelessness.
Jesus prayed, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world…” (John 17:6, NASB) To me, that speaks of divine appointments…much as each of us has. God has “given” us people to whom we are chosen to shine His Light and manifest His name. The truth of His name. The truth that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39, NASB)
“He was in the beginning with God…He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” (John 1:2, 10)
They need to know Jesus. All of Jesus. Not a form of godliness that is transactionally relational. Not a chess-game Jesus where we move together, move for move, but in perpetual disharmony, on opposite teams. The real Jesus and His perfect reflection of an infinitely loving, accepting, forgiving, and embracing Father. The Father who mirrors the statement, “‘…let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'” (Luke 15:23,24, NASB)