Sunday December 22, 2002 | Greg Boyd
27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss [a] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
Greg spoke this morning about the power of Jesus Christ as the Light of the World. In the Bible light and darkness are contrasted. Light describes the goodness and presence of God, while darkness describes the absence of God’s presence, or more specifically, describes a context of rebellion against God.
Greg spoke this morning about the power of Jesus Christ as the Light of the World. In the Bible light and darkness are contrasted. Light describes the goodness and presence of God, while darkness describes the absence of God’s presence, or more specifically, describes a context of rebellion against God. It’s important to note that the conversation about light and darkness in the Bible has nothing to do with color. Instead, when light and dark categories are used it’s about the ability to see or not to see. Greg encouraged us to think in terms of day and night. During the daytime there is light and a person is able to see clearly his or her surroundings. In contrast, at night the darkness conceals a person’s environment. Greg stated that in today’s culture there is little understanding of the pervasiveness and gravity of spiritual darkness. Therefore, many people have little understanding and appreciation for that which brings spiritual light. In today’s sermon, Greg spoke of the significance of the person who is spiritual light, Jesus Christ.
Greg stated that light and darkness are contrasting images, and yet they are related. We are able to understand the significance of light when we comprehend the reality of darkness, and vice versa. However, this rarely occurs. Instead, we think we are good people, and therefore, we trivialize the reality of the darkness. We become comfortable with the sin that marks darkness rather than being vigilant against it. However, the truth is that the world has a serious sin problem. Greg gave two indications of this reality. First, people have a deep sense of emptiness. There is a feeling within people that something is missing. So we try for success through job promotion or greater material possessions, instead of finding significance in Jesus. A second proof for the pervasiveness of sin is our inability to solve our problems. For example, racism seems like it should be an easy thing to eradicate. That is to say, it should be easy for all people to be treated equally and fairly both on a personal and systemic level. That seems elementary. However, despite the progress that the Civil Rights Movement produced there is still widespread inequality. How can this be? In addition, at the end of the 19th century and into the early 20th century people believed that the world was becoming more civilized and thus would be able to live in peace. The reality is that the 20th century turned out to be the bloodiest century ever. How can this be? The reason is that sin is powerful and pervasive in the world. Greg stated that only when we understand the gravity of the world’s sin problem will the Christmas message have real meaning. The good news of the Christmas story is that Jesus has come to earth to bring light into the darkness. As we learn in John 1:4-5, “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Jesus does not teach us about the light, but is the light of world. He does not enlighten us about the light, but is the light. Jesus does not offer us a religious system or an ethical mandate, but instead a relationship with him. He, himself, is our Creator and Redeemer. Are we surrendered and yielded to Jesus? Only then can we know our God-given worth and purpose.
Yet, the darkness resists the Light, and his name is Satan. Despite the fact that God through Jesus Christ has in principle, “turned on the light,” by defeating Satan on the Cross, this reality will not be fully manifested until Christ’s return. Thus, in this world it can feel as though the darkness is winning. We may feel it in our relationships, our families, and our physical bodies. And it seems like at Christmas time these feelings are accentuated.
However, Greg challenged us to believe that no form or amount of darkness can extinguish the light of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:35-39 testifies powerfully to the fact that nothing, absolutely nothing, in this world can separate us from the love of Jesus. Things such as hatred, brokenness, violence, sickness, war, and racism cannot overcome our relationship with Jesus. In the midst of struggle, it takes the eyes of faith to see this. So what will we allow to define us, our situations or the Word of God?