At 5:50 a.m. Pacific time on Jan. 2, 2021, people across the Northwest experienced a special annual phenomenon. At that precise moment, we reached our closest approach to the sun for the year. This point in Earth’s orbit around the sun is called “perihelion.” Interestingly, we’re closest to our fiery star in winter and farthest away in summer.
This astrological paradox seems counterintuitive. How is it possible we are closer to the sun yet experience winter at the same time in the Northern Hemisphere? The answer lies in the tilt of the Earth’s axis. During the hemispheric winter, the Earth is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. The rays of the sun hit one hemisphere of Earth at a shallow angle, which minimizes the amount of energy that hits any given spot. Our shorter days and longer nights prevent Earth from warming up.
Much like perihelion, the first few months of 2021 started on the chilly side. The coronavirus pandemic has continued to claim thousands of people every day as the virus mutates and spreads. Vaccines are still slow getting to the public. Economic upheaval and social and political divides continue to threaten world stability. Surely, darkness covers the Earth.
Our world is tilting away from the Son of God. Although the world has more knowledge about God and more access to know Him than ever before, it seems to be living in a spiritual winter. The vitriol expressed by those on opposite sides of issues is doing more harm than good. “… Those who at any supposed provocation feel at liberty to indulge anger or resentment are opening the heart to Satan. Bitterness and animosity must be banished from the soul if we would be in harmony with heaven” (Desire of Ages, p. 310).
Even though the world may be leaning away from God, we have the opportunity to lean toward the Son as we invite Jesus Christ to live in our hearts. Jesus came to reveal God’s love to humanity. When we are grounded in God’s love, we can begin to understand the width and length and depth and height of Christ’s love, which passes all knowledge, and be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:17–19).
What the world needs is to tilt toward the Son of God! The light of the gospel of Jesus Christ shines out into the world and dispels the darkness. John 3:16 says, “This is how much God loved the world, that He sent His only son, Jesus Christ, so that anyone who believes in Him will not die, but will have life, the life of the age to come.”
God’s love comes to us exactly where Jesus finds us. All we need to do is accept it. Accepting God’s love starts a chain reaction of divine power, by the Spirit. Jesus is not content to leave us the way He finds us. He comes to abide with us through the Holy Spirit and brings hope and healing to every child of God.
Christ reminds us today of the importance of a godly character. Character matters. Words matter. Truth matters. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth, who will lead us into all truth. “The work of the Holy Spirit is to define and maintain the truth. He first dwells in the heart as the Spirit of truth and thus becomes the Comforter. There is comfort and peace in the truth, but no real peace or comfort can be found in falsehood” (Desire of Ages, p. 671).
The best gift Jesus could give His followers was the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus inspired His followers with hope when He talked about the Holy Spirit. Through the Scriptures the Holy Spirit speaks to the mind, impresses truth upon the heart and transforms the life. “The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent … it is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure" (Desire of Ages, p. 671).
As the Son came to glorify the Father by revealing His love to the world, so the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son by revealing His grace to the world. The image of God is to be reproduced in the followers of Christ. God is honored by His people who develop a Christ-like character through the power of the Holy Spirit and reflect His love toward the world.
In June, Earth’s axis tilts the Northern Hemisphere toward the sun, although Earth is farther away from the sun in its orbit. With the sun’s rays hitting Earth at a steeper angle, the light does not spread out so much, thus increasing the amount of energy hitting any given spot. The longer days and shorter nights also allows Earth to warm up, thus we have summer.
Current events may produce discouragement and fear. But we know that “tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5:3–4). Tilt in toward the Son. You will experience more light, hope and warmth as you bask in His love. “The Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you” (Is. 60:2).