Monday, January 19, 2015

Not Enough Light

So it turns out I am not as good as keeping up with a blog as I thought I would be.  It’s been a long time since I have posted, but hopefully I’ll get back in the groove here in the New Year.  As far as community center updates go, I hope to have a really big one for you soon!!  I have prayerfully selected some members for my board of directors and continue working on my business plan.  Which reminds me, if any of you know how to write a business plan I could always use extra help!  Stay tuned for a more detailed update, but for now I feel like I need to write about something God has put on my heart lately. 

I could sit and type for days about all of the terrible things going on in the world.  I could sit and think every night and never get a wink of sleep about all of the awful things happening in the world around me.  I could choose to look around me and say, “What’s the point?  That’s how society is.”  I think it’s a temptation for all Christians to get discouraged by the events unfolding around us.  It’s very difficult not to fall into that pessimistic mindset that society is just awful and that’s how it is.  I’ve heard a lot of Christians talk about how un-Christian America is and how terrible of a nation we have become.  And I, myself, have fallen into that at some point or another.  Here is the problem, I believe with that type of thought; it takes the responsibility off of us as Christians.  Maybe I am a na├»ve, innocent, or an extreme optimist, but I do not believe that America is going to hell in a hand basket or that society is awful and that’s just the way it is.  Satan is at work in our nation, there is no doubt about that, but people are human.  I fail as a Christian daily, and I would hope that someone wouldn’t write me off immediately because of the times when I am weak.  There is a reason people who aren’t Christians see us the way they do.  We can stand on our soap boxes and scream forever that we aren’t what people believe us to be, but we have to take a step back and look at why people are put off by Christianity.  Mike Glenn, the preacher at Brentwood Baptist in Brentwood, TN once said during a sermon, “It’s not that there’s too much darkness, it’s that there’s not enough light.”  That phrase has stuck with me and has become a huge part of why I want to get into missions.  If I want my community to be better, I have to do something about it instead of blaming the world.  It’s so easy for me to write people off or to look at different situations in the world and get angry and judgmental, but in those times I think it’s important to look inward.  How am I part of the problem?  I believe 100% that Jesus has won the victory.  God has won.  He wins every day.  Even on the darkest of days in human existence, God has and will overcome.  I believe that with every fiber of my being, and that has allowed me to see situations in a different light.

Christians are misunderstood and are highly criticized, but that’s the way it should be!  Look at the life of Jesus.  He was always misunderstood, criticized, and was basically a mystery to those who denied him.  And He loved those people all the same.  The world persecutes us and criticizes us because they don’t understand, and they shouldn’t!  We can’t expect the world to want to join our cause if we aren’t facing persecution the way God has called us to.  I often have this notion that I have to figure out the world that persecutes me or that I have to find a way to overcome it, but God doesn’t call us to that.  He has already won that victory.  Paul and Stephen and Jesus and so many other Christians like them have shown us how to face persecution.  And to put it bluntly we are called to shut up, and take it.  I am so tempted to fight back, to let my opinions on issues in our country be known, to have my ideas on politics be more important than portraying my love for others.  Our freedoms don’t come from our government, they come from God.  There are places around the world where people face persecution by death for their faith, but they still have freedom in Christ.  There is a world looking to Christians in a time of great persecution.  And I think we drop the ball a lot.  We lose sight of the example Jesus set for us and try to set our own.  There is a reason we are picked on, but there is also a reason we are looked to when things get hard.  How will we respond to Satan?  Will we take up arms and try to destroy the spirit of those who don’t understand us?  Or will we choose to become the light?  Will we choose to take responsibility for the way the world sees us?  Or will we keep pointing the finger at outward sources?  “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  Christ chose to love those who persecuted them.  He chose to be a light to people who didn’t understand. 

I know that in missions, I will come into contact with people who don’t believe what I believe.  I will come into contact with people that might criticize me for my faith or maybe even just be mystified by it.  And it will be hard not to fight back.  It will be hard not to point the finger right back at them.  But God has won the victory.  I don’t need to fight back.  I need to be the light.  I need to take joy in the persecution I take from the world that doesn’t understand my faith.  I need to trust that God is at work in their hearts.  I need to not judge others because I fail, too.  “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distress for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)