In this fourth message of the God in Us series we explore what it means that the light of the world has taken up residence in us. Throughout scripture we see the theme of darkness and light battling back and forth. In Genesis we read of the Spirit hovering over the darkness and bringing order to the chaos, light to the darkness. In the gospel of John, Jesus calls himself the light of the world, and promises his followers will have the Holy Spirit in them if he goes away. So what does it mean to have the light of the world living inside us?
As an intro Kendra shared how lonely it can be to be new in a community, even a church community. She reminded us the importance of noticing one another and taking the time to be intentional about welcoming and really seeing one another. This simple act has the power to break down walls and build others up.
The God in Us series is about understanding who the Holy Spirit is and what roles he plays in our lives as followers of Jesus. In this message we explore the nature of light and darkness and what it means for the light of the world to be living inside us. In Genesis 1 scripture describes the Spirit of God as hovering over the waters, over the darkness, and bringing order to the chaos. This theme of light invading the darkness continues throughout scripture. The Israelites wondered in the wilderness for 40 years led by a pillar of smoke during the day to provide cover from the elements and by a pillar of fire to provide light by night.
In the Old Testament the Spirit would show up at specific times for specific purposes. Later on in scripture the Israelites wound up in exile after rebelling against God and specific ways he had instructed them to live. The darkness pushed against them and overwhelmed them and they found themselves in Babylon. Out of this place of darkness we read Isaiah’s (9:2) voice sharing prophecy about Jesus that the people in darkness have seen a great light. This imagery of light is confirmed in John 1 where the author shares Jesus’s introduction of himself as the light of the world. Jesus takes the imagery even further in John 14 when he talks of his going away so that the Father can send the Holy Spirit to be in His followers. This truth is at the heart of the call on follower of Jesus under the new covenant. We not only have God with us, but we have God in us!
Kendra shares multiple roles the Holy Spirit has in the life of a follower of Jesus:
• In John 14 Jesus says the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. He is meant to whisper the words of Jesus in to our hearts in order to guide us in to truth and away from lies and deception.
• The Spirit testifies that there is one God and shows his lordship.
• The Spirit is meant to reveal sin, show righteousness, and bring judgment. We often get this purpose wrong in that we think this is God’s judgment against us. In reality the Spirit simply shines the light of God’s love, which by its nature exposes the darkness in our lives. The Holy Spirit shows us through nudges and communion with our own spirit what right relatedness (righteousness) looks like in relationships. It’s important to know the judgment the Spirit brings is against Satan and the forces of darkness, not against us. We have already been bought by Christ’s death and resurrection. Our sins have been forgiven and our slate wiped clean by the blood of Jesus.
• The Holy Spirit also brings renewal in our life. We read in Titus 3:4-6 that the Holy Spirit has been poured out through Jesus bringing a washing of rebirth and renewal.
Lastly, Kendra shared some personal experiences of great invitation and great challenge in her own life. She shared that having the light of the world living inside us doesn’t mean things always go well for us in this life. Rather it means that we have light to shine in to dark places, and we have understanding of a God of love walking with us providing hope in the midst of our circumstances. If we walk in the light, as Jesus is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another.
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At the beginning of the Bible we have the scripture,
”In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness….”
The description then proceeds with the ‘architectural’ formation of the world and its inhabitants. The understanding here is that its creation was perfect….and presumably, echoed or reflected its Heavenly origins.
With the creation of Adam and Eve, God inserts His Image within Creation, with a view that ‘thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven’….which occurred up until the Fall.
While thinking on this, it occurred to me that Fallen Humanity has effectively become graffiti on God’s Creation…..which, without wishing to push the metaphor too far, God has sort to remediate.
So with the Incarnation, we have the Son of God, Jesus, active in this area with His mission as described by the prophet Isaiah (Lk 4:18-19),
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
The thrust of these verses (and other Gospel laden verses) is one of restoration for Humanity. Where we have healings performed, the dead are raised, sins forgiven etc, those impacted by these events are made whole and are returned (albeit, in part, proleptically) to the state they would have been pre-Fall….the graffiti of their lives has been removed!
As Kendra described the Spirit hovering over creation and bringing order out of chaos, so the presence of the Holy Spirit, since Pentecost, similarly brings order out of chaos and darkness in the lives of Fallen Humanity and will ultimately lead to a renewed Creation.