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Pure Lights in the Darkness

Philippians 2:14-16
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour in vain. (NIVUK)

This world is a dark place, where people cannot see beyond the fog of corruption and obsession with their own selfish ambitions (2 Peter 2:17-20).  But Jesus came to be the Light of the World (John 8:12).  When people get to know Jesus, they start to be able to see themselves from God's perspective. The Holy Spirit will make them aware of the sin that has ruled them (John 16:8), and the Saviour who wants to deliver them from its power. As they repent and trust Jesus He changes them, bit by bit from the inside, so that they too can shine truthful lives and words into a corrupt society (Colossians 1:10).

So Paul reminds them what kind of people they ought to be (2 Peter 3:11). Complaining and arguing have to go (1 Corinthians 10:10).  They were never a part of Jesus' life and should not characterise ours either.  Instead, we are to accept God's will and trust in His power to lead to right solutions instead of having to fight to defend ourselves.  Jesus committed Himself to Father God, and so should we (1 Peter 2:23).  'Blameless' and 'without fault' may seem impossibly high standards, but once we know the gracious forgiveness of God we can start to live without fear of condemnation (Romans 8:1).  We have been set free from our guilt so that we can put all our energy into pleasing the Lord.

All who receive Christ become God’s children – loved and precious (John 1:12).  Not just to indulge ourselves in His mercy and grace, but to work with Him - illuminating this dark world with His light shining through us.  How else will people know the Light of the World if we deny our relationship with Him by hiding His light (Matthew 5:14-16).  That light is not just the gospel-fruit of kind behaviour but is focussed as we explain His Word.  As people believe what He has said, so light comes into them – revealing how much they need Him (Psalm 119:130).

Our role is to radiate the Light (the truth about Jesus) and, by explaining what He has done for us, hold out the lifeline of gospel hope from His Word.  We believe in Jesus because someone else told us about Him, how to receive Him and follow Him.  Now, the baton is in our hands and we must pass it on to others.  The church could have died out within a generation of Paul's death; but despite (or perhaps because of) persecution (Acts 8:1-4), they kept shining out the Jesus-character and speaking out the Jesus-truth.  Paul did not run in vain, nor did the person who told the gospel to you.  But who will be introduced to Jesus because of your life and witness?  You can start the process by deciding not to complain and refusing to argue.  You can be sure that somebody will notice, and eventually ask you why … you will need to be ready with an answer (1 Peter 3:15)!

Holy God. Thank You for calling me to become like You, and for helping me to change so that I can learn to live a new life. Forgive me for failing to understand that the gospel baton is in my hand. Help me to recognise and accept the privileged responsibility You have given me to be Your representative where I live and work. Give me fresh courage today, to resist the urge to complain and argue; but instead to trust that You will fight for me and that I can accept whatever You allow without grumbling. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams