A CALL FOR THE CHURCH TO SHINE IN DARKNESS: (Part 1 of 9)
I must admit that I have been a bit cynical about the cycle of spirituality that seems to accompany national elections in our country. As much as I support people praying for our nation, it saddens me that this type of collective effort seems to be reserved only for critical moments. It is not that we don’t need prayer in times like these; we do. But why aren’t our prayers as fervent during the other three years out of four?
Hear my heart: we are in desperate need of God to come and touch our land. In fact, God has convicted me of my cynicism and invited me to join in with what used to frustrate me. But you have to admit, the October Prayer Movement does seem to be a bit of a mess this year. The church is struggling to know where we fit with the political chaos that is the 2016 Presidential Elections. The divide between left and right seems to be exaggerated more than ever this time around, and never have I heard so many from within the church attach God’s Name and His cause to the broken systems that this world has to offer.
If I am completely honest, when I see the mess and hear the noise, my first instinct is to sequester myself away from it all. I can spiritualize these thoughts, retreating to cozy, warm gatherings with Christians who all look like me and think like I do. I can take it a step further and talk about the need to press into prayer and seek the face of God. It’s not that leaning into community and prayer and intercession is not important, but it has become far too easy for us to pray “On earth as it is in heaven” without ever engaging the people, places and things that are on God’s heart.
So what do we do? As I prayed about this, I was somewhat surprised when I sensed God directing me to take the time to write a short series of articles that will address what is happening around us in this hour. Does there really need to be another voice sharing opinions in this oversaturated market?
As I contemplated this, I became very aware that my opinion cannot provide any help to anyone. But while no one needs to hear my opinions, we all need a fresh encounter with God’s perspective.
I do not claim to have a corner on God’s perspective, but it is my aim in this series to think, pray, and write about what is happening around us through the lens of God’s word and from the perspective of His advancing Kingdom. My heart is not to tell people what to think, but to humbly remind us of the importance of viewing life from God’s vantage point.
Before I begin, I think it would be helpful to offer an explanation of who I am writing to and why. This is important because I know that once I submit these thoughts, I will not be able to ensure that my words are taken in their original context or heard only by my intended audience. So in taking a moment to express my intentions, my hope is to bring clarity to anyone who might read my perspectives on current events, to create a context that can be used as a point of reference.
First of all, these articles are written explicitly to the Church--to those who belong to Jesus and identify as being His. My thoughts are not intended for nice Americans or for the good, moral people of our country. They are written for those who understand that belonging to Jesus means that we are called out to shine as lights in the midst of darkness. That said, content of these articles do not represent Republican or Democratic party interests, nor are they conservative, progressive or liberal in nature. I believe they represent a kingdom that reflects a different way of thinking than what this world has to offer.
Secondly, my goal is to write a series of articles that will engage what many see as a cultural crisis. In addressing these issues in current events, I hope to provide a common sense perspective that is based on the truth and reality of the kingdom of God. When I say common sense, I mean to communicate what I believe to be a common vantage point revealed through His word that will allow the church to come into a real place of agreement and authority.
Finally, my purpose in submitting this series is to humbly but boldly remind us of the call to walk worthy of the good news of Jesus… standing fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (Phil 1:27). In the midst of the chaotic brokenness that this world offers, it can be so easy to forget that our lives are not wrapped up in the affairs of this world.
I believe that the Holy Spirit is ready to instruct us in how we can engage this world with the Good News of the Kingdom without becoming entangled in the affairs of this world. When I say engage, I mean that I believe that we are called to be fully awake and actively involved in addressing the aching and groaning that arises from the brokenness that a fallen world produces around us.
Over the next month, I will address specific issues that I sense God is highlighting in this hour. Among other things, I hope to write about what it means to be responsible sons and daughters of God, debunk the concept of the ‘lesser of two evils’, and explore our call to shine as light in the midst of darkness. If you choose to read these articles, please know that they are meant to be read collectively. If you read any of the subsequent articles, I would encourage you to read them all, as they will build on each other precept by precept.
I would also ask that you read the words as they are written. Please don’t read between the lines and assume or presume anything that has not been expressed. I do not pretend to believe that I will masterfully communicate all that I hope to express, but I do commit to not be passive aggressive in my writing. I promise that I will not engage in sideways talk or try to say something without saying it.
My hope is to humbly present these perspectives and then make room for conversation about what I sense God is revealing in this time. I invite you to let me know your thoughts, questions and concerns. To be clear, I have no interest in debating anyone about anything, but I would love to engage in conversations that we can use to sharpen each other and humble ourselves before God, as we seek His face.
I want to close this introduction by sharing what has been my overarching thought during these past few months, inspired by the words from Isaiah 9: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Light has always been the answer to darkness. It destroys it every time.
For the past several years, I have been struck by the story of Jesus appearing to John on the isle of Patmos. When John describes the encounter, he describes hearing “the voice of the One,” and then turning to see Him. His description of Jesus is awesome and terrifying at the same time. He has a sword coming out of His mouth, fire in His eyes and a face that outshines the sun. Can you imagine?
But John goes on to describe that this awesome figure, this One Who Will Judge the Nations, was standing in the midst of seven lampstands, representing seven churches. How ridiculous is it that One who has eyes of fire and a face like the sun is hanging out with candles?
This passage is so important for the hour that we are living in--a time where darkness is showing off, but the darkness of our day is no match for the Light of God. Jesus is the light of the world, but while He walked the earth, He turned to His followers and said You are the light of the world. The One who shines like the sun in all of its strength is committed to showing up in the midst of His church.
As we move forward in this series, it will be with this revelation in mind: that light and light alone is the answer to darkness. Let’s lean into God and buy oil so that we can express the radiance of His beauty and light. I’m excited to take this journey together.
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Brad and his wife, Adriane, have spent over two decades pastoring churches in the United States with a focus on reaching the “un-churched”. In 2011, they moved to Grove City, PA with their daughter Abigail to pioneer Antioch Overflow Experiment (AOX), a community of simple churches with a mission to “disciple, equip, and release sons and daughters of the King to transform every sphere of society for the glory of God.” Follow him on social media@bradmckoy to stay connected to him and his family.