Living the Light
The light has come into the world, and the people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.(John 3:19)
The reason people do not come to the light is because they do not love it. “Foe everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”(John 3:20)
Love for the light is not caused by coming to the light. We come because we love it. Otherwise, our coming is no honor to the light. Could there be any holy motivation to believe in Christ where there is no taste for the beauty of Christ?
To be sure, we could be motivated by the desire to escape hell or the desire to have material riches or the desire to rejoin a departed loved one. But how does it honor the light when the only reason we come to the light is to find those things that we loved in the dark? Is this saving faith?
Saving faith is the cry of a new creature in Christ. And the newness of the new creature is that it has a new taste. What was once distasteful or bland is now craved. Christ Himself has become a Treasure Chest of Holy joy. The tree of faith grows only in the heart that craves the supreme gift that Christ died to give: not health, not wealth, not prestige- but God! Test yourself here. There are many professing Christians who delight in God’s gifts, but not God. Would you want to go to heaven if God we’re not there, only His gifts?
“Christ…..suffered once for sins…that he might bring us to God.”(1 Peter 3:18) “ Through him we….have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18) “Through him we have….obtained access by faith into this grace….and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God…We…..rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:2,11)
What the question of any relationship is that of why have we entered into it. Have we began the relationship for its benefits? In other words, do we ask, “What am I getting out of this? As I have talked with couples over the years whose marriage was struggling I have heard repeatedly that the reason they were considering separation was that each felt they were not gettin out of the marriage what they had expected. They based the successfulness of the marriage on whether they were getting their expectations met. Truthfully no human relationship will ever last based on whether the other party will constantly provide all our desires and expectations.
But what about our relationship with God? Is is supposed to be one way? Is God supposed to mold Himself to our desires and when they aren’t met, do we walk away? When we fall or fail to live up to expectations does God walk away? Some would believe so.
From the beginning, all that God has done is for the purpose of building a true relationship with humanity. The Garden of Eden with all its beauty and blessing was not to be only for the benefit of Adam and Eve to enjoy. It’s primary, and perhaps sole purpose was to be a meeting place between God and His creation. We read that every day in the cool of the evening, God walked with Adam and Eve.
“….then the Lord God formed [that is, created the body of] man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being [an individual complete in body and spirit]. And the Lord God planted a garden (oasis) in the east, in Eden (delight, land of happiness); and He put the man whom He had formed (created) there. And [in that garden] the Lord God caused to grow from the ground every tree that is desirable and pleasing to the sight and good (suitable, pleasant) for food; the tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the [experiential] knowledge (recognition) of [the difference between] good and evil. So the Lord God took the man [He had made] and settled him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool [afternoon breeze] of the day, so the man and his wife hid and kept themselves hidden from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”
When Adam and Eve sinned and were cast out of the Garden, they lost all it had provided but God continues to be with them and their children.
Later we read that God called to Himself Abraham who became known as “ the friend of God”. His descendants, the tribes of Israel were to be the people of God who walked with Him and talked with Him. As God brings them out of Egypt, we read the sad story of a people who saw God only as provider. Whenever they faced a need or challenge, they complained, became angry and even wished to return to Egypt. When Moses was on the mountain forty days, they built themselves a golden calf to worship.
“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw the Egyptians marching after them, and they were very frightened; so the Israelites cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What is this that you have done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Did we not say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians?’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians [as slaves] than to die in the wilderness.”
Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went into the Wilderness of Shur; they went [a distance of] three days (about thirty-three miles) in the wilderness and found no water. Then they came to Marah, but they could not drink its waters because they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah (bitter). The people [grew discontented and] grumbled at Moses, saying, “What are we going to drink?”
They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they left the land of Egypt. The whole congregation of the Israelites [grew discontented and] murmured and rebelled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the Israelites said to them, “ Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and ate bread until we were full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this entire assembly with hunger.”
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “I have heard the murmurings of the Israelites; speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”
Then all the congregation of the children of Israel moved on from the Wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water so we may [have something to] drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you tempt the Lord and try His patience?” But the people were thirsty for water; and the people murmured against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up from Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood and presented themselves at the foot of the mountain. Now all the people witnessed the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the smoking mountain; and as they looked, the people were afraid, and they trembled [and moved backward] and stood at a [safe] distance. Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, they gathered together before Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
Do you see that their relationship with God was based on what God would do for them?
As we continue their story, we find that after they moved into Canaan they continuously gave their affection and worship to false gods. See Judges, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. Finally, God gave them up and they were taken captive by the Babylonians and dispersed.
Now we come to Jesus. God sent His Son to restore the relationship with humans. And the reaction was the same.
“When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came up to Him and bowed down before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You are able to make me clean (well).” Jesus reached out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. As Jesus went into Capernaum, a centurion came up to Him, begging Him [for help], and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, with intense and terrible, tormenting pain.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” When Jesus went into Peter’s house [in Capernaum], He saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her; and she got up and served Him. When evening came, they brought to Him many who were under the power of demons; and He cast out the evil spirits with a word, and restored to health all who were sick [exhibiting His authority as Messiah],
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign (attesting miracle) from You [proving that You are what You claim to be].” When Jesus heard about John, He left there privately in a boat and went to a secluded place. But when the crowds heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt [profound] compassion for them and healed their sick. Then He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and He took the five loaves and the two fish and, looking up toward heaven, He blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up twelve full baskets of the leftover broken pieces.
The crowds that went ahead of Him, and those that followed Him, were shouting [in praise and adoration], “ Hosanna to the Son of David (Messiah); Blessed [praised, glorified] is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest [heaven]!” When He entered Jerusalem, all the city was trembling [with excitement], saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” At that moment Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber? Day after day I used to sit in the porches and courts of the temple teaching, and you did not arrest Me. Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all replied, “Let Him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what has He done that is evil?” But they continued shouting all the louder, “Let Him be crucified!”
Fast forward to today. There are many who abandon their faith when God doesn’t do what they have prayed for. Trust me when I tell you that in the test of unanswered prayer or answered prayer that is not what you want is the defining of the relationship. Like the young couple who repeats the marriage vows, “ for better or worse, for richer or poorer,in sickness and in health, forsaking all others till death parts us”, we promise to follow Christ. And like that couple who faces worse and poorer and sickness and the temptation of others, our relationship defines our choices. Do we stay and care for our sick spouse with no benefits? Do we stay and suffer poverty together? Do we remain faithful even when offered a more attractive choice? The answer to these is found in the relationship.
When we consider our relationship with God, will we walk with Him even if He never gives us another blessing or answers another prayer? Is heaven for us all about it’s provisions or about the One who sits on the throne? Are we choosing God just as “fire insurance” so we might escape hell? Do we go to church because it’s habit, the right thing to do or do we go to meet with our Redeemer?
I’m sure many of us may have never asked ourselves these questions. But we should. May our hearts cry with the apostle Paul: “that I may know Him”, and with Peter:
“When many of His disciples heard this, they said, “This is a difficult and harsh and offensive statement. Who can [be expected to] listen to it?” As a result of this many of His disciples abandoned Him, and no longer walked with Him. So Jesus said to the twelve [disciples], “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You [alone] have the words of eternal life [you are our only hope]. We have believed and confidently trusted, and [even more] we have come to know [by personal observation and experience] that You are the Holy One of God [the Christ, the Son of the living God].”
Dr. John Thompson