I held the mag light in my spiritual hand and was ready to move. I only had a moment to spare, life or death was held in the balance. If I missed the perfect opportunity to shine the light into the darkness, that moment would be lost forever. I may not get a second chance. It was my responsibility. I would have to answer for it.
I turned on the glaring light and shone it right into the eyes of the person in front of me. As I witnessed both of their arms fly up to shield themselves from the pain of it, I was filled with a sense of dread. I wasn’t quite sure why – something deep down told me I was directing the light in the wrong direction. Maybe the beam was too bright. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it yet, but something didn’t feel right. People were supposed to be seeking to be saved from the darkness no matter how much pain.
But this was how I had been told it was done. The brightest, biggest, instantaneous, glaring, in-your- face kind of light was the best to use for this purpose.
That was the kind that saved lives, and we are were in the business of saving lives. Or were we?
So it is with much of evangelical Christianity. At least the evangelicals of the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s I associated with. I happen to admire my children’s generation and their methodologies to authentic discipleship, authentic love, authentic social justice, and authentic “church.” Yes, “authentic” to use their term.
They look Jesus straight in the eyes and all they see is genuine love. They are not afraid to look Jesus in the eyes. Many of the 40 and unders get that you can look Jesus in the eyes and you will see a cross looking back. Not a cross that we must cling to for dear life as we are dragged to and fro in an attempt to figure out which direction we should carry it, but a cross that clearly points the way back to itself.
Back to Christ.
A cross that was carried by the God-Man who said, “It is finished.” And we can rest in that. Finished. Grace. The cross points the way to Jesus. The cross points the way to God. God is love. He died so we can believe. Not work to believe. Simply believe.
“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love”. I John 4:7
Our rest in God’s love produces change. Our belief in the cross as purchasing love for us, produces change.
Our belief in His love produces love.
His light is a gentle light. He lived with, and by, the light of a flickering oil lamp. Nothing blinding. Nothing painful.
A radiant warmth that drew people right to it. A light that gently led the way to the banquet table. The bread, a cup, and a soft glowing light – all pointing to the finished work of grace upon the cross.
In that flickering candlelight the cross of Christ is reflected in our own eyes; others see that light and are warmed by it.
“In the same way, let your light shine before people in such a way that they will see your good actions and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt.5:16