November 13, 2015

Witnessing To the Light of Christ in a Dark World (Proper 33b)

As we approach the end of the Church’s teaching Year B we are being sent out to witness to our own experience of being healed, made holy by God and sharing in the love, joy and peace of His Kingdom in our Christian fellowship. People all around us are starving for meaning and fellowship in their lives. Young Muslims of both sexes are so bored and desperate they travel to the horrific violence and danger of the ideal of establishing a new Islamic State. The end of Christendom has left many people without hope or meaning. They have never seen or experienced the spiritual light of hope for healing, forgiveness and an eternal life of love, joy and peace that Jesus taught and modelled on Earth. They have been deceived by false teachers (Mark 13.5, 22) because nobody forcefully proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ to them.

1. Christians are being “made holy” (Hebrews 10.14)
Holiness is a lost value in our time. Many people are focussed on the hollow values of inclusiveness, materialism and individualism – that do not really satisfy our basic human need for meaning, fellowship and community.

·         God is trying to do something – “make” us holy
·         Make us into something we are not by nature
·         Reason is God desires fellowship with us, relationship
·         Problems:
o   God is holy - cannot be in the presence un-holiness
o   God gives us free-will, cannot force us to love, obey Him
·         We pray “Your Kingdom come, your will (holiness) be done
·         Holy = pure, undivided, un-polluted, whole, complete, perfect
·         Holy people are like a light that shines brightly
·         Light of holy people exposes the darkness around them
2. Christians are made holy by the “Light of Christ”
The “Light of Christ” is a short form or code for all the actions and healings of Jesus in the Bible. The Hebrews Reading (10.11-25) teaches us that God added to the Covenant of Moses with a new form of (divine and human) sacrifice that created a new way for believers to repent, confess and receive pardon for specific sins.

This “Light of Christ:
  • Exposes our personal and corporate darkness
  • Gives us the hope of healing and forgiveness
  • Opens our spiritual eyes so we can believe in Jesus and trust in Him for forgiveness
  • Opens our spiritual eyes so we can see, repent, confess and be pardoned from the sin guilt that was making us unholy
  • Not automatic or easy – need to ask, pray and read whole Bible sometimes to “get it
  • My story of being a cradle Anglican but not really “getting it”
 3. Overcoming our darkness is not easy
Serious believers receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who opens our spiritual eyes and helps us see our own darkness. The Holy Spirit is like the continuing “Light of Christ” in the world. As those who have been on Cursillo know there are “Obstacles” that make it harder to overcome our darkness:
  • Overcoming self-deception, fear of ridicule
  • Overcoming sloth – most people have not actually read or studied the Bible themselves – essence of Protestantism
  •  “False teachers” (Mark 13.5, 22) – including some bishops
  • Overcoming human weakness – pride, envy, jealousy, fear
  • Overcoming spiritual temptations, lying spirits, bondages
The Good News is that we all know what we have to do to overcome:
  • Focus, humble ourselves and ask Holy Spirit to show us the cause of the darkness
  • Listen to the Holy Spirit and specifically name and repent the sin behind the darkness
  • Ask Jesus to take this sin-guilt to His Cross and pardon us
  • Really accept our forgiveness from Jesus and give thanks!
The Readings for today inspire us to step out into a dark and confused world in Faith:
·         Real Faith helps us overcome obstacles and push back our own darkness so we can be the Light of Christ for people around us.
·         Others need to see the joy and purpose in our lives and be drawn into the loving fellowship of our church.
This is how we can all witness to the Light of Christ in a dark world.

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