Posts Tagged ‘light’

Hot News

One of the hot news items in California is literally hot: wildfires. I had been jealous of those who had homes in beautiful wilderness areas. But seeing TV pictures of homes that have been reduced to ashes, I’m glad I live in a city. The same is true of the floods that have hit the Midwest. Beautiful river views have been replaced by raging torrents of destruction right through some houses and businesses and I find myself thankful that I don’t live on a river.

I’m not insensitive to the plight of folks who live there. Even though I do wonder in the back of my mind if some of these problems should have been realized and avoided. My dad chose my childhood home’s placement carefully, because he grew up on a hillside above a river and saw the families washed out below. He would mention this when the creek on the other side of town overflowed its banks every five years or so. I don’t know if the likelihood of wildfires in the mountains where they now are raging was well known before so many people started building there; but if it was, then they took quite a chance by going ahead with building plans.

Our daily lives have the same need for care. We should be careful to check out “the lay of the land” so we can avoid the spiritual flood waters. Our Lord illustrated this through the story of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. His life was nearly destroyed by moving to the region of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19; compare 2nd Peter 2:7).

More than the geographic choice, though, one’s moral/political choice influences the way life develops. If I choose to live alongside the banks of immorality, I open myself to the possibility of being overwhelmed by it. if I build my house among the stands of political correctness that have grown up in this society, I run the risk of being consumed by the conflagration. While we do have to live in this world physically, we need to be sure we are not choosing to live within its mindset.

It is likely that all Christians would give verbal assent to the preceding paragraph. But we often don’t look closely at what we are doing to see if our practices fit with our stated beliefs. Do you have friends who live in immoral ways? Do they know you disapprove or do they think you go along with it? Do your business partners use unethical practices or act without concern for who will be hurt by their choices? Do you speak up for doing what is right?

Jesus called for us to be a changing influence on society (salt and light, Matthew 5:13-16). Peter noted that true Christians are different from the society surrounding them, so much so that they think us strange (1st Peter 4:4). We cannot follow these teachings and at the same time be a friend to the world (1st John 2:15-16).

These principles must affect one’s decisions on what and how much to buy, what to say and how to say it, how to vote, how to perform one’s job, who to “hang out” with, how much of one’s life to devote to “playtime,” what we do with our playtime, etc.

Let’s be careful where we choose to live. Will it be in the Spirit or in the flesh?

The Outside World

The headline reads, “Polygamist sect told its children that the outside world is hostile and immoral.” It’s a follow-up story to the child abuse culture discovered at a splinter Mormon group’s compound in Texas. But there’s a surprising side to their belief about the outside world: It’s entirely Biblical! Compare Ephesians 4:17-20–

You must no longer walk as the nations walk, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to the hardness of their heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!

BUT, while the Apostle Paul wrote such things about “the outside world,” he never suggested that we should isolate ourselves from it. When they made the choice to isolate themselves, the leaders of this sect were NOT following scriptural principles. We should avoid participation in the world’s evils, but we should be close enough to “expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). Indeed, this same apostle called himself an ambassador to the ignorant world (Ephesians 6:18-20). How can you be an ambassador if you are not present with the people to whom you are an ambassador? Jesus spoke of his followers as lights for the world (Matthew 5:14-16). Many other scriptures point to this part of God’s plan; e.g., 1st Peter 2:12.

There is another reason not to isolate ourselves from the world. When all we know is our own practice, we tend to think that anything we are doing is right. Admittedly, this sect chose their isolation, in part, because they wanted to practice something that the world would condemn. But if they had not isolated themselves, their children would have seen how abnormal this practice is and been motivated to examine the practice long before now.

Those of us who hold fast to our Christianity even while the world assaults it are forced to evaluate the worthiness of that choice every day. There are some things about it that the world doesn’t understand, as was predicted (1st Peter 4:4). The Apostle Peter also wrote, “honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1st Peter 3:15).

Let’s use this occasion to encourage ourselves to be lights to the world and always examine that light to keep it pure.