Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lights in the World

Recently, I've been memorizing the book of Philippians. Yes, the whole thing. No, I am not a particularly incredible Christian or anything like that. I was challenged. And I could not turn down the challenge. Therefore, I am memorizing it.

But this challenge has really opened me up to interpreting Philippians much deeper and paying much more attention to what Paul is saying in his letter than I normally would have. Trust God to use something as trivial as a challenge to reveal more of Himself.

Philippians 2:15 says, "... Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world."

Immediately this verse caught my eye. Crooked and perverse generation? Sounds familiar. We live in a world where homosexuality is being widely accepted as a lifestyle rather than a choice (albeit a difficult one). Where there are over 140 million children without a family. Where there are children taught to use guns and forced to kill each other. Where young girls and women are forced into the sex trade and made to give up their innocence in order to save their lives. Where there are billions of people suffering in poverty and starvation every single day. We live in a generation that is crooked and perverse.

But as I read it, I thought more. We are supposed to "prove ourselves to be blameless and innocent." This conflicted to me. I, certainly, am not blameless and innocent. I have sinned. Bad. And I continue to sin every day. So how can I possibly prove myself to be blameless and innocent? The only man who was every innocent of sin was Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ became sin so that we could be seen as what He was - innocent.

So in order to be innocent, we must take on the person of Jesus Christ. We, obviously, could not have accomplished this on our own, and so Jesus took the liberty of making a way for us. In order to take on His person, we simply must accept that He took on ours.

When we become Jesus, when we accept what He has done for us, we become children of God. And as children of God, we no longer are in sin, but are in Life.

We are to be above reproach. And I ask, "How can I be above reproach?" If a non-Christian came up to me and accused me of sinning, I could not deny it. Yes, I am a Christian. But, yes, I still sin.

So how do we become above reproach? I think it is key that in the verse, "children of God" are "above reproach". It does not say that unsaved people who try and have high morals and get to God on their own are above reproach. It does not say that only people who never sin are above reproach.

It says that "children of God" are above reproach. Simply because they are children of God. They have made a conscious decision to take on the person of Jesus, and allow Him to take on their person. Once we have done that, our hearts strive to be Jesus. To embody the one who has embodied us. So even when we sin, we fight it. We struggle. We wrestle with our sin and we repent and fall at our Father's feet. And because of our repentance, because of Jesus's brave, noble act in our defense even though we did not deserve it, we are above reproach.

And we are, indeed, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. It's not popular to be against homosexuality. It's not normal save sex for marriage. It's seen as strange to believe that there is only one way to Heaven and that way is Jesus Christ. It's absolutely insane to want to give your life for what seems so otherworldly and unrealistic.

But because of the world we are in, we must appear as lights. If we hide who we are in Christ, we add to the darkness. If you're standing in a dark room full of people who need to see where they're going and you're holding a candle, but you refuse to light it, you are not only doing an injustice to yourself but to all the people around you. No one sees unless you light your candle.

You cannot wait for other people to do it. Because if you do not add to the light, then you are adding to the darkness. Believing in Christ and becoming a child of God is a decision. But so is lighting your candle afterward.

If you keep it out, it will make no difference. It will add to the darkness that already encompasses the world.

But if you light it, it spreads light farther than you could ever see.

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