“Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” -Martin Luther
I just heard about the Dallas incident where five police officers were shot to death. Our culture is rapidly changing and, unfortunately, not for the better. There is so much happening in our nation and around the world that can cause us to despair and surrender to fear. I confess I am by nature somewhat pessimistic but I am hearing similar comments from many people and I know it’s not just me that feels the palatable angst that is in the air.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Another African American man has been killed recently and it’s hard to understand why. It seems racism, though it exists under the surface in all people, continues to be the scourge of our society. Majority cultures don’t seem able (or willing) to empathize with minority cultures. Minority cultures suffer in ways that majority cultures fail to understand. Black fathers are compelled by necessity to have “the conversation” with their kids. That conversation is about how to behave when pulled over by a white police officer. The purpose of this conversation is to protect their children from suffering mistreatment or even death. It saddens me that a father would need to have such a conversation just because he is black. Don’t misunderstand me. I know the majority of cops are good cops and not all majority culture people are calloused and insensitive. Though the subject of racism is very important, this is not a blog post about that specific issues as much as it is about the injustice and danger of living on this side of heaven. The problems are prolific. Injustice is in our fabric because of universal brokenness and rebellion against God.
Terrorism has visited our shores and is unlikely to leave them. Our nation is penetrable with or without a wall. Things have unsurprisingly changed in our nation. It is no longer an asset to say you are a Christian. Sometimes it draws ire and sarcasm, if not outright hatred. Culture today is eerily reminiscent of Romans 1:32 where Paul writes, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Our culture has attempted to erase God from our lives and we seem to be experiencing the ramifications of this deadly cultural shift. We have failed to embrace God’s decree, but we have also ignored His kindness. His decrees carry two positive principles behind them: to protect us and to provide for us.
Both of our political parties seem incapable of rescuing the nation. Both have corruption. Both have acquiesced to careless standards. Our hope cannot be in eradicating terrorism, racism, or finding the perfect leader. Those standards are not irrelevant and can be noble in and of themselves, but they are not what we need. It’s easy for us to faint with fear or anger at the direction our world is going. It is indeed very ugly and very serious. Al Mohler writes, “The very notion of right and wrong is now discarded by large sectors of American society. Where it is not discarded, it is often debased. Taking a page out of Alice in Wonderland, modern secularists simply declare wrong, right, and right, wrong.” And, of course, he is right in his assessment. Without being simplistic, I want to echo Luther’s words that as followers of Christ we must be intentional by lighting a candle rather than merely cursing the darkness.
Jesus is the light of the world. He deserves our devotion and unconditional surrender. Only He can rescue us from what is the most serious issue of all human history: will you spend eternity with or without God. Only Jesus can provide, and indeed freely offers, peace. His peace exists in the midst of chaos. Remember the storm where He fell asleep in the boat? Only He can change our hearts and its from our hearts that our behavior flows. But Jesus offers so much more. He tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, goodness, gentleness, and faithfulness. This is where we need to lead our nation and our world. This is how we can light a candle. Our goal is not world peace for the sake of world peace. That simply will never happen until Christ returns. Our goal is to rest in our Father’s presence. He is a strong tower. Our goal is to worship Him. Only He is worthy of all praise. Our goal is to find our satisfaction in Him. His living water will satisfy us.
Lighting a candle in the darkness anticipates that we run to the Father. It means that we share with the world where peace can be found. It means that we pray together for our world and our leaders. It means we surrender our lives to Christ regardless of our circumstances. It means we look up ahead where there will be eternal relief from our brokenness. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Our hope for the nation and for the world lies in Jesus, not in a perfect world. Make no mistake, He will restore all things. In the meantime He will provide you with the peace you need for today. Cast your anxiety on Him for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).