Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Darkness

I just finished re-listening to a Leonard Sweet presentation delivered in 2003 at the M3 Conference sponsored by the Church of the Nazarene. Sweet struck a few chords with me in his presentation. I attended that conference, so I can provide a little background for you on the audience.

It was the "Missions in the Third Millenium" (M3) conference, and focused heavily on the USA and Canada as mission fields. The attendees were primarily older, pastors and spouses, which will help you understand some of the illustrations he uses.

The illustration that struck me the most was about Christians being called to be light in darkness. He made a few points about the darkness that are worth reviewing. First, there is always darkness. Second, we do not get to choose our time or our darkness. Third, we are called to go into the darkness, not let it come to us.

Ours is a dark time. There is great evil in the world. In this country, Christ is persona non grata to many people because of the way the Christian church has behaved in the past. Every religion imaginable is here. Pornography is delivered into homes with or without invitation. In many ways our society has become extremely licentous and highly sexualized. This is our darkness.

Previous generations faced the darkness of communism and facism. Others faced plagues and pestilence. But this is our time.

So, how do we show our light in the darkness? First, we need to get out of our church buildings and stop using them as refuges from the world. They need to be used as refuges for the world, not from the world. And that requires us to go into the world. For too long the church, especially the evangelical churches, have written off parts of society and made little effort to redeem God's creation.

Second, we need to understand our darkness. Ours is an age where religious pluralism and tolerance are the norm. Christianity is not the norm in many places, and we need to accept that and move on. We may wish we were fighting the darkness of the antebellum era, but we are not. And our message and methods need to reflect the battle we are in, not the battles of the past.

Third, Matthew 28:19 is pretty clear. As Sweet points out, the only verbs there are GO and MAKE disciples. Not sit and pray, not sit and wait for them to find us, not hope and wring our hands. We have to go into the darkness.

How many of you have ever been in absolute darkness? The introduction of light to eyes accustomed to deep darkness is blinding at first. But it is also attractional. Our eyes gravitate to the light. And it compels us to draw closer. We are that light. We know where the darkness is. Now let's go.






6 comments:

Anonymous said...

very well put- Sir Roy

Hey we need to get our families together very soon.

Shelly

bishopman said...

Right on, bro. The problem with change is that it often comes too late.

BobK said...

I would agree...at least 90% or so. :)

I would agree that the church needs to get out of the building to fulfull the great commission. That is where the light shines in darkness. That includes just simply actively sharing your faith where you've been planted.

I might disagree with the following though: "And our message and methods need to reflect the battle we are in, not the battles of the past." Being that the battle is always a spiritual battle I can agree that the methods may need to change but the message itself should never change.

Rags said...

Bob,

I agree it is always a spiritual battle. Sometimes the battlegrounds change, as do the tactics.

BobK said...

To engage in a more thoughful way it would have been better for me to ask the question: What parts of our message would you be in favor of changing "to reflect the battle we are in"?

Rags said...

We need to recognize the manifestations of evil in our time, which is different than than 20 years ago, 50, 100 or however far you go back. Consumerism is the American state religion, and that wasn't the case in the past. That mentality has had devastating effects on the church, families and society. Instant communication has simplified the process of bringing evil into our homes. The speed of life makes it harder for people to connect. The list goes on.