Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In the Light

In the Light
 God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5.  Darkness has no substance, in fact it really doesn’t exist, it is simply the absence of light.  It’s no wonder that God describes evil as darkness or simply something that doesn’t exist without the absence of light (God).  When you sin, you are ushering in the absence of God, and the longer you hide that sin the longer you are God-less.  It’s easy to measure darkness or sin when you look around and see morals declining, marriage being obliterated, lives being taken in the name of choice, and murder, molestation, and rape on a daily basis.  But where there is any darkness or sin, it is simply the absence of God in that person’s life.  So when you told that little white lie that “didn’t hurt anyone”, or when you spread that piece of gossip, or when you lashed out in anger at your children, or when you harbored bitter thoughts towards a person who hurt you, or when you had lustful thoughts towards someone who is not your spouse, you embraced the darkness and the absence of God in your life.

Jesus said, This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." John 3:19-21.  It’s easy to use labels for people who struggle with things on an ongoing basis like alcohol or drug use or pornography, but how often does one have to lie to be called a liar, or gossip to be called a gossipaholic, or lash out in anger to be called an anger addict? 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.  1John 1:7.  The blood of Jesus purifies us from sin while we are walking in the light.  It’s not that we don’t sin; it’s that we are willing to recognize it and do something about it.  This is what allows us to be in the light rather than stumbling around in the darkness all the while pretending that we are in the light.  Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “You are the light of the world”, not you should try to be the light of the world, but you are.  Is that true in your life, are you in the light and showing that light to others or are you hiding in the darkness (absence of God) and pretending to be light?

A young Marine and his commanding officer board a train headed through the mountains of Switzerland.  They can find no place to sit except for two seats right across the aisle from a young woman and her grandmother. After a while, it is obvious that the young woman and the young soldier are interested in each because they are giving each other “looks.”  Soon the train passes into a tunnel and it is pitch black. There is a sound of the smack of a kiss followed by the sound of the smack of a slap. When the train emerges from the tunnel, the four sit there without saying a word.
The grandmother is thinking to herself: “It was very brash for that young soldier to kiss my granddaughter, but I’m glad she slapped him.”
The commanding officer is setting there thinking:  “I didn’t think the young Marine was brave enough to kiss the girl, but I sure wish she hadn’t missed him when she slapped and hit me!”
The young woman was sitting and thinking:  “I’m glad the soldier kissed me, but I wish my grandmother had not slapped him!”
The young Marine sat there with a satisfied smile on his face.  He thought to himself:  “Life is good.  When does a fellow have the chance to kiss a beautiful girl and slap his commanding officer all at the same time!”  (Illustration borrowed from Alan Smith

It’s difficult to know what is happening in the darkness. (as shown by three of the four characters above) There is no light to gain proper perspective.  Without God intentionally in your life on a daily basis you may be blind to your own darkness.  I pray that your walk today may be in the light of God’s love.
In Christ, Lance

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why I hate Legalism

First of all I hate legalism because Jesus does, and I want to be like Him.  I know I’m not and I’m sure that one of the ways that I’m not like Jesus is my own form of legalism.  But Jesus hated the legalism of the Pharisee’s.  Any time a law or an interpretation of a law got in the way of salvation, grace or mercy, Jesus threw a fit. 

Second I hate legalism because of how it has cast a pall on my own relationship with God.  For so long my faith was centered in a culture of legalism that I couldn’t even see and because of this I have a very difficult time accepting the grace, mercy, forgiveness and love of God.  It instilled within me a sense that I was never going to be good enough for God, and even now as I try to accept Him in all His Nature, the foreboding sense of an angry God is never far away.

Third I hate legalism because of how it has destroyed lives.  When Christianity is replaced with rules based legalism there are many casualties.  I’m not going to elaborate on this much because it brings a lot of memories and pain.  Even now there are many brothers and sisters in Christ that I love and pray for, that I’m afraid would be hesitant to call me brother because of the nastiness of a judgmental spirit that is often a bi-product of legalism.

Lastly I hate legalism because it in a word is sin, and is divisive.  Jesus was very clear how He felt about legalism, He called them sons of hell, and so was Paul.  Scriptures like 1 Timothy 4:1-5 describe this type of behavior as demonic and hypocritical.  I’ve often heard the word “worldliness” thrown around in very loose ways, basically representing everything that is not weird or out of style as “worldly clothing” just for an example. 

Let’s be clear; being like Jesus is difficult, it requires a constant examination of your mind, emotions, thoughts, words, and actions.  Replacing that with a cheap version of holiness that is based on your interpretation of rules and regulations does not promote Godliness; in fact it promotes and is worldliness.  Read Colossians 2:20-23 with me as I close out this article. Colossians 2:20-23 NIV - Since you died with Christ to the - Bible Gateway

Listen to how the CEV describes verse 23 - Obeying these rules may seem to be the smart thing to do. They appear to make you love God more and to be very humble and to have control over your body. But they don’t really have any power over our desires.

Free in Christ and loving it, Lance