The question is “How can we as a church push back the darkness that is overcoming the world?”
Out of the 1181 chapters in the Bible, the first two of chapters are a wonderful picture of the light pushing back and overcoming the 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.” – Genesis 1:1-3 NIV (http://bible.com/111/gen.1.1-3.NIV)
From Genesis 3 on – darkness begins to cover the earth with human being #3 (Cain) killing human being #4 (Able, Cain’s brother). It really didn’t take long for the enemy, Satan, to move into our lives in full force. Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, in the Harvard commencement speech he gave, he said “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” Why use this point he made at Harvard? Because if we look at the world and try to cut out all of the evil, then we would have to decimate the entire human population. Every human being has evil in their hearts. Definitely something to ponder.
What does this have to do with Jesus? I think it goes to this question that He asks His disciples. “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” – Matthew 16:13 NIV (http://bible.com/111/mat.16.13.NIV)
Do we consider Jesus to be the Son of the Almighty God, or just a good person? The evil in our hearts – even in those who are “good” people – wants us to say that He was a good man, maybe even a prophet, but not the Messiah. His disciples answered Jesus like this:
“Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, Christos, the Son of the living God.” (Completely man and completely God.) – Matthew 16:14-16 NIV (http://bible.com/111/mat.16.14-16.NIV)
Are we working to overcome the darkness in our families and our neighborhoods? Do we understand why our world is covered in darkness? God explains the why to the prophet Jeremiah:
“…then say to them, ‘It is because your ancestors forsook Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘and followed other gods and served and worshiped them. They forsook Me and did not keep My law. But you have behaved more wickedly than your ancestors. See how all of you are following the stubbornness of your evil hearts instead of obeying Me. My Eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from Me, nor is their sin concealed from My Eyes. I will repay them double for their wickedness and their sin, because they have defiled My land with the lifeless forms of their vile images and have filled My inheritance with their detestable idols.” – Jeremiah 16:11-12, 17-18 NIV (http://bible.com/111/jer.16.11-18.NIV)
Bluntly and plainly put. We now have the why; now we need to know what to do about it, and how to go about it. Is this following verse you? “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” – Isaiah 9:2 NIV (http://bible.com/111/isa.9.2.NIV) We are definitely living in the land of deep darkness! I believe that as followers of Christ it is our job to spread the”Great Light”, and we do it through the Gospel proclamation.
Just as Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven.“ – Matthew 16:17 NIV (http://bible.com/111/mat.16.17.NIV)
When we see the Light of Jesus, it isn’t because of anything we can do ourselves. It is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. It’s up to us to light up the world through our lives…. not because we are “good” or any better than anyone else. We are simply sinners saved by Grace. When we judge others, we need to remember that there, except for the Grace of our God, we could be.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, the Rock, (the level and square foundation block of the church) and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16:18-19 NIV (http://bible.com/111/mat.16.18-19.NIV)
Without God at the head, Satan wins. With God, no gate of hell will stand against the Light of Jesus. We have to take the Light to the darkness, living out our faith through our lives. I was this woman Jesus is speaking to in John, condemned by man and saved by Jesus, Amen. Are you possibly this woman – or man – waiting for Jesus to set you free?
“Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I AM the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life.” – John 8:10-12 NIV (http://bible.com/111/jhn.8.10-12.NIV)
William Wilberforce wrote “Real Christianity: Contrasted with the Prevailing Religious System,” published in 1797. He set out as a young politician to do two things: rouse professing Christians to understand the nature of true faith, and to bring about the end of slavery in England’s colonies. His book is equally relevant today for Christians wanting to understand their faith better, but it is also still relevant on the issue of slavery. Even though we don’t have the obvious slave markets that were so prevalent in the 1700’s, there are thriving slave markets that exist to this day. (The book is still available, both new and used on Amazon, and also available as an eBook.)
What do you think of Jesus? What do you say about Jesus? What do you live about Jesus?