Early one morning, I was asked what time it was. My first thought was it was dark. Anyone half awake knows we are living in a very dark time. Some say these are apocalyptic times. Death and grief are everywhere. Evil is on full display. Darkness is covering the earth.
Reflecting on this, I've come to realize that, when the world gets dark, we must keep moving forward with courage and hope. We must turn on the lights and "prove yourselves to be ... children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:15, NASB).
Our eternal God "dwells in unapproachable light" (1 Tim. 6:16). "For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of the darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). God's light and glory is His character. Jesus is the express image of God. Jesus glorified God in His life on earth and revealed God's character in human flesh.
If we seek to know Jesus, who is the image of God, we will be transformed into the same image. God's character of love, kindness, forgiveness, mercy and grace will, over time, become our character. When the light is in you, the light can shine out to others.
Jesus, the Light of the world, also called us to be lights in a dark world. The Bible reveals that, in the last day's of Earth's history, difficult times will come. Men and women will be lovers of self rather than lovers of God, and even Christians will deny, by the lives they live, the power of Christ to change the human heart. In other words, every day, I'm either a witness for or against Jesus Christ. I'm either shining the light of His love and grace toward others, or I'm living in darkness and denying Him. One way to test ourselves is to be honest about how we treat each other when we disagree.
There are many issues in our society where people, even committed Christians, may disagree. The real issue is not the disagreement. The real issue is how we treat each other when we disagree. Do we start wars, as we see between Russia and Ukraine? Or are we peacemakers? Does my opinion need to be right? Or is it more important that I shine as a light?
Kindness, love and respect for others is rapidly disappearing in our world. Yet Christians are told to "love one another as Christ has loved you." I'm not saying it is easy to love others when disagreeing on issues. In fact, it is impossible to love others in our own strength and power.
Christians are called to put on the robe of Christ's righteousness — His character — through the Holy Spirit, by faith. The Holy Spirit is the living presence of Jesus, and He lives in our hearts through faith. Through faith, the Spirit will live out the life of Christ in us. Thus, we are empowered, by faith, to love those with whom we disagree.
As Christians, we must remember the living Christ in you will not fight with, disrespect or humiliate the living Christ in another. We are never more like Jesus than when we love and forgive each other as Jesus loves and forgives us. When we do, He is glorified. When we don't, Jesus is denied.
Therefore, the Christian struggle is not against other men and women of different opinions. Our struggle is against the rulers of darkness and the forces of spiritual wickedness who tempt us to do evil deeds. Our weapons are also not of the flesh, but of the power of God, to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Remember, the flesh cannot crucify the flesh. Only the Spirit of God can crucify the flesh. Hatred cannot defeat hatred. Only love will overcome hatred.
Our weapons are prayer and the Word of God. There is power in both. The Word of God will transform the human heart. Prayer is the opening of the heart to God, as to a friend. To pray without ceasing is the unbroken union of the soul with God. The Holy Spirit will teach us all truth and lead us to spend time with God in prayer. Forgiveness of others, as Christ has forgiven us, is necessary to receive all the Spirit desires to give us. In these things we find the secret power to loving others — even those with whom we disagree.
The final and full display of the love of God will be made to the world through the church before Christ returns. In other words, we, the church, are called to shine the light of His love and grace in this dark world. This is an incredible truth that challenges me every day.
So, what time is it? It's time to turn on the lights!