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Challenge, Opportunity: Day’s Darkness Means Somebody’s Gotta Shine Light of Truth

This past Tuesday, Dec 21 — a mere four days before Christmas Day — we experienced the “darkest” day of the year: the winter solstice; the first day of astronomical (as opposed to meteorological) winter. The sun set earlier that twenty-four-hour stretch than any other of 2021. Where I live? By 4:30 PM it was pretty much black outside.

This natural-world data reminded me of the divine call for men to shine as “lights in the world” … all year long. This commission is the desire God has for every person. 

The New Testament’s Philippians 2:15 commands Christ-followers to “become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (NKJV).

Believers’ actions, lived out in Jesus’ name and aligned with His precepts, are transformed into expressions of “illumination” in the midst of the present age’s anti-God murkiness (Matthew 5:16). Their words, proclaiming Gospel truth and the insights of God’s Word, make clear why they are the way they are — and offer the same hope and experience to those who’ll listen.

Because Jesus came as Light into the world 2000 years ago, those who believe in Him from their hearts (Romans 10: 9,10) can, in Him, function in the same manner during this abjectly needy period.

It’s no mere accident the Christmas season is suffused with “light” motifs. Drive through any neighborhood the weeks between Thanksgiving Day and December 25th and you’ll almost certainly spy homes and businesses spangled with decorative brilliance. It’s termed the “season of lights” for a reason: Jesus’ physical arrival to planet earth — Who is the “Light of the World” (John 8:12) — is what is supposed to be commemorated every December.

That said, the commissioning of Christ’s disciples to similarly be “lights in the world” goes well beyond the obligation of instructing lost men and women how to obtain forgiveness for their sin, how to chart a path to eternal life. The Creator’s passion for truth extends to every facet of living.

— When, as a Gallup Poll recently discovered, 44% of Americans aged 18-49 volunteer they have no intention of ever having children …

— When abortion – the murder in the womb of the most helpless human beings of all – is not only tolerated legally but giddily celebrated by its proponents …

— When two men or two women openly trade matrimonial vows with each other, thus flagrantly twisting marriage into a grotesque simulacrum of the authentic institution …

— When society approves of biological males announcing they’re actually women; and vice-versa …

— When parents are lectured they need to back off from deciding how their children are to be educated, to let the little ones opt for life-altering choices sans mom and dad’s input …

— When degreed economists or elected/appointed officials avow with straight face that swamping the population with free government money won’t discourage persons from getting a job …

When these trends prevail – and so many others just as cancerous — you know a civilization is gripped by a drought of truth. You can conclude the self-absorbed, libertine twaddle of the secularist Left is winning out.

It also signals undeniably it’s well past time for someone to activate a “light”; for sound-thinking men and women to hoist the standard of truth via authoritative words and lived-out examples.

In the teeth of the noxious falsehoods ravaging this generation, every pronouncement and demonstration of heavenly ratified, history-proven verities is, in fact, an expression of God’s Kingdom. All truth is God’s truth — scientific, anthropological, philosophical, financial, economic, relational, political — and, yes, spiritual. Any time truth is communicated, it means God’s showing up. So truth must dependably, consistently, aggressively be communicated.

Psalm 119:105 reveals His word (instruction, correction, commandments, revelation) is like a “lamp” or “light”. It indicates the way to go and the ways to avoid.

Who are those who’ll faithfully convey truth — light! — to this blinkered age? This crossroads at which so much confusion and deception is ascendant?  Who’ll lovingly but stubbornly do so even when discouraged, when the likelihood for “success” seem bleak? Who are those deputized to keep truth prominently visible, regardless of the depths of delusion that threaten humanity’s prospects?

Again, the New Testament summons all people to receive Christ and serve Him; and denominates those followers of Christ “the pillar and ground of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15 NKJV). They’re to guarantee God’s viewpoint is always represented, forever on display; that it has a firm foundation that will survive any assault.

Isaiah 60: 1-3 – a verse popular around this holiday — charges followers of the Holy Judge of the Universe:

Arise, shine;/ For your light has come!/ And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you./ 2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,/ And deep darkness the people;/ But the Lord will arise over you,/ And His glory will be seen upon you./ 3 The Gentiles shall come to your light,/ And kings to the brightness of your rising.(NKJV)

Wow. Quite a promise there from “the God of truth” (Psalm 31:5).  Thus, this possibility remains for those who heed it:

“The people who walked in darkness/Have seen a great light;/ Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, /Upon them a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2; NKJV)

I pray each one reading this exhortation will “shine” today … and tomorrow … and for the rest of this year’s Christmas season; and through the length and breadth of the impending new year. In the media, classroom, boardroom, politically, around the dinner table, in the coffee shop and in one-on-one encounters with others we’ll surely find open doors to make the practical case for God’s wisdom applied to so many on-the-ground areas. This era’s intensifying shadows provide not only an obstacle to truth, but opportunities for it to stand out even more luminously. It’s a “target-rich” environment as a friend of mine recently observed. Again, Matthew 5:16 assures that response will increase God’s glory in the earth.

Running up against daily challenges, unpleasant circumstances, difficult individuals, propagating wickedness — and good times as well! — may each of us resolutely meet these situations with manifestations of God’s righteousness, exhibiting His way, not our own. May we obey His commands; live out His counsel; talk about Him, what He did in sending His Son for mankind, how they all need Him. May we do it all as a lifestyle …

The literal “darkness” of this past Tuesday ought to remind each of us we’re called to blaze into the gloom of this nation’s, this culture’s, this realm’s spiritual darkness — and overcome it. (John 1:5)

Steve Pauwels

Steve Pauwels is pastor of Church of the King, Londonderry, NH and host of Striker Radio with Steve Pauwels on the Red State Talk Radio Network. He's also husband to the lovely Maureen and proud father of three fine sons: Mike, Sam and Jake.