Light in the Dark
We’ve seen in our recent series in the Sermon on the Mount that we are to be salt and light—influencing our network of relationships by projecting God’s preserving and clarifying truth. It’s a challenge, to say the least. First we need to allow His truth to penetrate and transform us continually. We never arrive at perfection in this life, so we must cooperate with the leading and empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. We have to apply the Scripture’s guidance that is so often contrary to our natural bent.
Last week we looked at Jesus challenge to our natural way of dealing with conflict. When in disagreement with, offended by, or in opposition to someone else our natural tendency is to solidify the break. We erect fences, label the insiders and outsiders, plot retribution, and write off any connection that has been or might be. This process is increasingly evident in our culture. I’m surprised that I’m surprised by this. I should expect it, even if I wish it were not so. I should be able to see it in myself. I should also understand it from the teaching of Scripture.
Jesus confronted it head-on, at the outset of His teaching ministry. He saw the divided landscape of Israel—religious factions, political factions, socio-economic factions and factions born of historic feuds. Sound familiar? Then He addressed the root causes. They had devalued the divine dignity of every soul; He called for reconciliation in every possible situation. They rationalized and institutionalized hate; He called for love of even those labelled enemies. They demanded extraction of retribution for every loss; He called for a turned cheek and an extra mile. He teaching is like a megawatt searchlight in a moonless night.
It was and is disorienting to our natural ways. It seems like it must be some form of exaggerated teaching method.
It’s not. It is the light of holiness that arrests our natural momentum toward the darkness of brokenness and isolation from God and people. When we apply it, as led and empowered by the Holy Spirit, amazing things can happen. Enemies can become friends. Fractured marriages can be restored. Longstanding grudges can give way to friendship. People with contrasting views and opinions can speak with civility and find some common ground. We are not likely to see all of these results every time we pursue them. We still live in an era of God’s plan where the sinful, natural ways are part of our and others’ reactions. But we are called to pursue the new ways of salt and light.
I was inspired by our teen greeters, ushers, musicians, teachers, hospitality workers and speakers last week. By their actions and words, they demonstrated the very principles so desperately needed.
I want to encourage us all to resist the mold of our natural bent and pursue the contrarian teaching Jesus presents for our relationships with other people—even the difficult ones!
In this weekend’s study Jesus’ “New Normal” looks at how we relate to God.
Looking forward to see you!