Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Light that touched us & we became Light: Departing Destructive Darkness, Embracing Creative Light

 "So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." -Luke 2:16-19

As supernatural as it can seem to talk about Mary, or the birth of Jesus, or the nativity event, it really came down to ordinary, average sinners, people in the mess of life experiencing the presence of God, and be changed forever.

And that’s what we are, as the church. We’re ordinary people, confusing at times, inconsistent, flawed, sinful, yet something special has happened in each of our lives.  Our lives intersected with God.  God jumped in and changed us forever.

That’s what happened for Mary and Joseph.  God changed everything.  Their lives were exposed to the light that is Jesus Christ. 

Today we continue our Advent series, and this week we look at the coming of Jesus in the gospel of John.  John’s gospel communicates in very poetic terms.  It’s my favorite gospel.  And it begins like this:

“1 Before the world began, the Word was there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was there with God in the beginning. 3 Everything was made through him, and nothing was made without him. 4 In him there was life, and that life was a light for the people of the world. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not defeated it.

6 There was a man named John, who was sent by God. 7 He came to tell people about the light. Through him all people could hear about the light and believe. 8 John was not the light. But he came to tell people about the light. 9 The true light was coming into the world. This is the true light that gives light to all people.

10 The Word was already in the world. The world was made through him, but the world did not know him. 11 He came to the world that was his own. And his own people did not accept him. 12 But some people did accept him. They believed in him, and he gave them the right to become children of God. 13 They became God’s children, but not in the way babies are usually born. It was not because of any human desire or plan. They were born from God himself.

14 The Word became a man and lived among us. We saw his divine greatness—the greatness that belongs to the only Son of the Father. The Word was full of grace and truth. 15 John told people about him. He said loudly, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘The one who is coming after me is greater than I am, because he was living before I was even born.’”

16 Yes, the Word was full of grace and truth, and from him we all received one blessing after another. 17 That is, the law was given to us through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The only Son is the one who has shown us what God is like. He is himself God and is very close to the Father.”

Today we are talking about light and darkness.  Light is beautiful. Whether it’s the sun in the sky, or the stars and moon at night, light is amazing.  Even lighting a candle or staring up at the street lamp can give a certain level of awe. 

We see a great deal of the metaphor of light in the season of Christmas.  Many of us put up Christmas trees adorned with lights. Some of us decorate our houses with lights. 

And for us as Christians we know that Jesus is our light.  He is the one who shown his light in our darkness.  We each can remember that beautiful moment, when our lives went from darkness and changed into light. 

Isaiah prophesied, “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). 

We used to live in the empty ways of our ancestors.  I recall when I used to live that way, living in the misery and stress of the world system. Public school, grades, anxiety, worry, hopelessness, a sort of rushing about in state of fretting and always angry.  Trying to pull pleasure from sources that could bring little pleasure.  Trying to live the modernist life, go to school, go to college, get married, buy a house, open a savings account, have children, on and on, and it was monotonous and meaningless. Something huge was missing.  It was like walking in an endless overcast gray day.  And you start to operate in a certain level of desperation. A quiet desperation.  Where nothing seems like it’s enough.  Nothing seems to be fulfilling anymore.  You really start to die inside, as you grow more and more hopeless.  And that empty road is what eventually led me to Christ.

And Christ lit the light in me. That’s my first point today. Christ lit the light in you at some point in the past.  A year ago, 10 years ago, whenever it was. Think about your life before Jesus. How desperate it was.  How miserable it was.  And be grateful to Jesus right now.  I’ll wait. 

So we’ve seen the light, and it’s been lit in us.

This light awakened me to hundreds of factors in reality that I never really understood.  Once you understand God, the Christian worldview, the Bible, and begin to see the world through those truths, you really have the road map for what life really is and what it means.  You realize that we aren’t bags of flesh, evolved from apes, we were made by a creator for a purpose. You realize that we have a great problem, that of sin, and we also have a great solution that of Jesus.  You realize that we have a future, the new heavens and new Earth.  You realize that there is objective truth, and there is a fundamental moral framework to the universe.  It grounds you, and expands your thought, and helps you to be seated properly in truth.  You’re no longer floating in the ether endlessly going nowhere. You have knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.  And life has meaning.  Not because we want it to, but because it actually does have real meaning.

Thus begins the battle to live as a Christian in  exile, a Christian outside his or her kingdom, making a pilgrimage from here to heaven.  And we start to have to undo all the brainwashing and old ideas that we had about life, and God slowly removes those old ideas and replaces them with biblical truth.  And it’s amazing and grueling, and difficult. 

And that I think directly references us to the darkness and the light.  We were people who once lived in darkness, and now we have the light within us.  And it’s like right now we are slowly marching out of the darkness, and into the light.  That’s a daily battle.  It truly is.  But it’s a battle worth winning, to see the world as Jesus sees it. 

That’s the second point to remember today, now that we have the light, we’re in that process of claiming the Christian worldview as our own.  We’re slowly walking out of the darkness and into the light, that process of sanctification we talk about. 

Third point I want to suggest to you today is the live consistently in the light.  And this is difficult at first, and then we claim it for our own.  We make a decision inside to say, I’m really going to walk by faith.  This happens at some point in our walk with Christ. 

We realize that we’re constantly bending back and forth between the light and the darkness. One day we’re on fire for Christ, we’re super excited, the next day we’re frustrated, angry, depressed and miserable.  The next day we’re close with Jesus again we have faith, the next day we slip into some sin and wander off into the dark again. 

But I’m challenging you today, and indeed myself, to find a more consistent faith.  A rock solid faith in God that doesn’t constantly falter and fail.  And I think inside that’s a decision we make to say yes, I’m all in, I’m totally committed to God, and I’m going to live in that faith day in and day out.  We need a consistency of faith, a faith that is not constantly wavering between two opinions. 

I’ve fought this battle in myself. And it’s a battle I think that happens inside myself, as to where my focus is going to be.  Am I focusing all my time on video games, YouTube, selfish pleasures, or am I focusing in on prayer, friendships, Christian movies, books, and attending church?  Where is my focus?  That is a question to ask ourselves today. 

That doesn’t mean your always perfect. Think of Mary and Joseph, and how their lives were changed by the coming of Jesus.  And think about how they made mistakes, and how Mary was rebuked several times by Jesus in the gospels.  Think about how average they were.  And yet God still worked through them in mighty ways.

Now you may not think it’s so important what you’re doing in Owosso. I can assure you that it is.  Your deeds in this city, I have no doubt, will one day be recounted for thousands of angels and cities of humans in the new Jerusalem, about every time you shared the gospel, or helped someone, or preached, or prayed.  They’ll be recounted like the beginning of John chapter 1.  In the beginning was the word, and the word was with Scott, was with Johnathan, was with Dorothy, was with Shannon, and one day this happened, one day that happened, and lives were changed.  And it matters.  It matters hugely.  So keep doing it.  Merry Christmas brothers and sisters. 

We’ve seen the light.

The light has changed us.

We’re slowly walking out of the dark and into the light.

Our worldview is being changed.

Have a firm unshakable faith in Christ

Share the light with others

Those deeds will be remembered in paradise.