In March I wrote a post about light and darkness. Here is a link. Religion wants us to focus on good and evil or right and wrong and eat the fruit from a forbidden tree instead of the truth of Jesus. Struggling and working and striving and wrestling around in the mud with a dead nature is operating from the darkness. It may sound good sitting in the pew of the First Assembly of the We Are Right congregation, but it is still darkness. Jesus finished it all 2000 years ago. Still we are groping around in the darkness like blind men leading blind men. Wait, Jesus said that about the Pharisees:
Matt 15:12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (ESV)
Pharisee means “separatist.” Interesting that today, in the western church, we are still teaching separation from God. Makes you wonder.
The light came into the darkness and the darkness did not recognize Him.
John 1:9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (ESV)
Are we still doing that today? Are we still missing the mark on who Jesus is? Are we still trying to “balance” Grace with something else? The Grace of God is Jesus. The Gospel is Jesus. The Good News is Jesus. How can we balance Him with something else? Isn’t that “darkness?”
Jesus made it very clear that He is the only one who knows the Father:
John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (ESV)
He says this multiple times. I know it may hurt our tradition-infused heads but we must “see” the light in the darkness. Abraham was awesome. David was inspiring. Moses was precise. Samuel was intense. Isaiah was…crazy. They were all great. They all have so much to tell us. NONE of them knew God. They may have had a glimpse. They may have had a moment. They may have had a really good impression. They were often led by the Spirit, filled with the Spirit and spoke from the Spirit, but they didn’t know God. I didn’t say it. Jesus did.
To try to balance Jesus with anything else is to step right back into the darkness. Jesus is why we call ourselves “Christians.” Little anointed ones is a good description of a people who are in union with Jesus. The Holy Spirit is illuminating the Jesus within us. The Holy Spirit is amplifying the conversation between the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is anointing Jesus within us so we can know what Jesus knows about the Father. Come on! That should really pump you up. Why would we jump back into the darkness when we are filled with light?
Did you know that Paul’s calling was to bring the light?
Acts 26:16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
What is the power of Satan? Darkness. What is God? Light.
Even Jesus began His ministry this way:
Matt 4:13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Repent means to change your mind. The Kingdom of Heaven is the reality of God. The “at hand” phrase is really cool. The same Greek word is used like this in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament):
Gen 48:10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. So Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. (ESV)
That is cool right? Here it is in another passage:
Isaiah 5:8 Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land. (ESV)
Isaiah and his woes… Still the “joining” or “add” is the idea of drawing near like what Jesus said. It is so close that you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. Wait a second…that is what our union with Him is like!
The light came into the darkness. Do we want to see the light? Jesus accomplished everything in His incarnation, death and resurrection. He reconciled all the cosmos to the Father in Himself. That is clearly what He did. That is the good news! We are not separate from God. We shouldn’t fear God (as in hide from Him). We should stop living from the fruit of the wrong tree and instead feed on the bread of life…Jesus! Why 2000 years later we even have religion at all is pretty mind-blowing. Because of our freedom to choose the darkness remains. It is easily overcome because the light shines in the darkness. Just a glimpse, an illumination by the Spirit and a teeny tiny drop of faith and we “see” the light. You have “seen” the light. I guarantee it. God is relentless in His pursuit of His children.
Our battle is not sin management. Our battle is not cleaning up the exterior. Our “battle” is in our minds. Will we give up on our effort and our wisdom and instead embrace the finished work of Jesus? Will we stop believing in separation and instead wrap ourselves in His arms of inclusion? Will we stop living in fear of the most awesome relationship imaginable and instead step into the circle of the triune dance of Love. Will we stop, please stop, eating from the wrong tree and put our judgment in the trash can. We have to stop it with the judgment and division and condemnation. Jesus has changed us from the inside out. He has included us in Himself. We have access to His thoughts, His emotions, His relationship with Love Himself. Why oh why would we continue to eat from the wrong tree and spew our shame on others? Why would we live as hypocrites instead of embracing our new nature? Why would we stand in a pulpit or on a street corner and threaten people when the Gospel is good news?
The light has come. The light shines in the darkness.