“Happy New Year”
We begin the new year with an expression of joy because as Christians we know that Jesus has paid the price for all our sins and has promised those who believe in Him eternal life. Yet, we continue to mourn the 26 innocent victims killed in church at Sutherland Springs on November 5, 2017. We continue to watch the fires in California rage. We continue to fear the potential of nuclear war with Korea. Death and disaster seem to be a constant occurrence. Why does tragedy always fill the nightly news? Why are some paralyzed by fear of things they can do little to prepare for or avert? Why do others strike out and cause catastrophic events that destroy innocent lives? Does the world have a thirst or hunger for catastrophic events? We flock to theaters to see movies depicting fictitious and violent disasters. We sit glued to our TV’s each time a horrific and disastrous event takes place. For a very few, the creation of such an event becomes their final goal for ending life. And we ask, why, why, why?
The answer is actually quite simple and so is the solution. The Bible teaches us that Satan’s goal is to destroy all that God has created and loves. Satan accomplishes this through deception, twisting truth into lies, and by shrouding people in His darkness. But “this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Jesus instructed His disciples, saying, “You are the light of the world… let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14a, 16). Darkness will prevail unless we carry the Light of Christ into every dark corner of creation. Through the Light of Christ people are restored, healed, gain hope for the future, and discover they are loved. People who walk in the Light do not sit waiting for the end, neither do they fall victim to Satan’s lies, causing them to seek destruction of themselves and innocent others.
Jesus has taught us many things and given us gifts of the Spirit to equip us for reaching those who walk and live in darkness. He has instructed us to reach out and help those around us in need. We carry Light into the darkness every time we feed the hungry or do anything that shows someone that someone cares about them—that God cares about them. We carry Light into the darkness every time we share our faith in Christ and the good news, that God loves them so much, that He gave His only Son for them. It is through Christ they can be forgiven their sins, restored to wholeness, and gain life eternal. We carry Light into the darkness when we teach others the Truth that Christ taught us, that God has a plan for our future and we can trust Him. Jesus teaches us to be always alert and prepared for His return, but not by waiting around for a catastrophic event. On the contrary, we are called to go out and make disciples, baptizing (freeing them from darkness and joining them with the Light) and teaching (equipping them to know and trust) that God cares about all of us and wants none of us to be lost in darkness.
We are beginning a new year and the first Church event of the new year is the Epiphany of the Lord—the manifestation, revealing, uncovering of the Light of Christ which has come into the world. Epiphany occurs on January 6 and marks the beginning of the season of Epiphany which runs until we begin the season of Lent in preparation for Easter. I have an epiphany—a great and inspired idea—let’s boldly share the Light of Christ with everyone we can as we begin a new year. Let us boldly carry the Light of Christ into every dark corner of our community and as far as we can reach. Who knows how many will be saved? Who knows how many will learn how much God loves them and have new hope for a better future. Fear not the darkness for the Light of Christ is within you, and Jesus promises to abide in you now and to the very end of the age. Shine, Jesus shine!
Your fellow servant in Christ,