Light of the World, Christians as the

Light of the World, Christians as the

by Rubel Shelly

Published in LoveLines (Mar. 23, 1994)

When the Darkness Descends

Most people appear to be aware that something terribly wrong and very disheartening has happened to Western culture. Statistics about crime, family disintegration, and drug abuse scare all of us. And many of us either know or are the victims of these evils.

As to why this cultural breakdown has taken place, a statement first published in 1836 in the old McGuffey's Eclectic Reader seems prophetic: "If you can induce a community to doubt the genuineness and authenticity of the Scriptures; to question the reality and obligations of religion; to hesitate, undeciding, whether there be any such thing as virtue or vice; whether there be an eternal state of retribution beyond the grave; or whether there exists any such being as God, you have broken down the barriers of moral virtue and hoisted the flood gates of immorality and crime. . . . Every bond that holds society together would be ruptured."

People, it is obsolete to cry out about "barbarians at the gates." The barbarians are on the inside, in charge, and at the gate controls!

The response to all this by too many Christians has been cringing, passive silence. We have acted as if we are helpless against the onslaught. We have given the playing field over to the enemy, surrendered our public institutions to him, and appear to be resigned to his being in charge. Nonsense!

Has God abdicated his throne? Has he taken back his promise of power to his people? Are lies and hatred more powerful than truth and love? No. No! No!

Shortly before his death, Moses exhorted ancient Israel to faithfulness unto the Lord. "Be strong and courageous," he said. "Do not be afraid or terrified because of [your enemies], for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deut. 31:6). If God's covenant people could count on his strength to be at work in them 3,500 years ago, why are we so reluctant to believe in that same power at work in us?

You are still called to be salt and light in this world. You are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven and are expected to exhibit that heavenly citizenship here. In the deep darkness of our time, the light from even a dim lamp gives off incredible brilliance.

Student, claim your classroom for the Lord. Secretary, be Christ's presence in your office. Teacher, know that you serve Jesus first in your work. Factory worker, professional, foreman, athlete, entertainer, short-order cook -- you are called to model faith, hope, and love in a world that has "fallen and cannot get up." Your message is that Christ lifts the fallen.

Don't give way to despair, then. Now is your time to shine.

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