2000-03-16 - Searching in Darkness
1 Cor 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. (NAS)
Driving home tonight, I was rerouted by a warning sign telling me of an accident a few miles ahead. I mentally selected an alternate route and took the next exit off the highway. The alternate route I had selected was a toll road. I was only going to the next exit, so I wanted to be ready to pay the toll. I opened the change tray in my dashboard without looking, and pulled out a handful of change to sift through. I knew the clump of coins I had grabbed was mostly pennies, so I would have to pick through them to find the coins I needed to make up the toll.
I didn't want to take my eyes off the road, so I would hold up each coin near the rear-view mirror in the light of the car behind me. Well, the nearest car was not all that close, so I was working in the dark to determine what each coin was. What a struggle. Even when I thought I had more than enough selected, I double-checked to find coins I had thought were dimes, where pennies. After I finally turned on the light, I had just enough time to find the additional coins I needed to make up the total for the toll. What a fight for 35 cents.
If we look at our list of offenses in verses nine and ten above, we might be tempted to say, "Sure, why would God let people like that into His Heaven?" And then our perspective is rudely readjusted by Jesus, through Paul, to a more proper focus by "And such were some of you; … " Talk about getting it right between the eyes. Very abruptly, we are lumped in with groups of people we would probably avoid at all costs. We are accused of being just like them. And in the end, we have no defense.
One of the most hurtful, insensitive things we can do as Christians is to forget who we were and what we were saved out of by Jesus Christ. It is disrespectful of the work of Christ in our lives, and arrogance to the people around us. Indeed we struggle with the old man inside us who fights with our new nature daily. He is reckoned as dead by God, but is still kicking, though he is condemned. If you think you are that much better than you used to be, look deep into your heart if you dare. Yes, you will find the love of God that is poured in like a flood, rebuilding and restoring. But you will also see a pit of sin and darkness that will repulse you.
We are told not to look back once we start walking toward Heaven. That is to say, don't look back like the Israelites did in the wilderness, longing for the fleshpots of Egypt. They looked back to their captivity with longing hearts thinking it better than the struggles they faced as they followed God to the Promised Land. This is not to say that we should not periodically measure our progress. If we can stop and look back at the pit that Jesus pulled us out of, it should leave us with grateful hearts and songs of praise to God for all that He has done for us. We groped in the darkness for anything that would fill the hole in our hearts and lives. Time and time again the things we tried would not even cover the gaping space in our souls. And when we had finally given up and had run out of resources, Jesus came and the darkness scattered. He lifted us out of the muck we were living in and put our feet on solid ground.
Whether you met Jesus in a penthouse or a back ally, and even if you now live in a palace or a tiny little home, the life within you has been changed in ways there are not words to describe. Never forget where you came from. Be thankful for your growth in this new life Jesus has given you. Know that the battle is far from over, but that Jesus, and you with Him, will be the victor. Someone you know thinks your life is the best example of Christianity they have. A life of humility and gratitude will be a candle lit in a dark place. The darker the night, the brighter a single candle shines. Don't be surprised when they ask you, "What is it about you that makes you different?" When they ask, they have already acknowledged that there is something about you that they like and they want. Tell them about the Savior that loved you enough to take you out of that dark place you were in and see if they won't follow you out of theirs.
John 1:46 And Nathanael said to him, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." (NAS)
Lord Jesus - with grateful hearts we thank You for all the things big and small that You have done for us. Help us to live lives that show Your grace, mercy and love to a world living in darkness and despair. Please, give us the courage to share the light that You give. Amen.
Grace & Peace,