A steady beam into the darkness
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)
With the continuing execution of hostages by ISIS, the question is being asked once again. “How can a loving God allow people to be treated so badly, especially those who are relief workers and only doing good?”
It’s a question that has been asked repeatedly down the ages. How many countless millions of Christians have died down the centuries? If we begin with the apostles, tradition tells us that they all died at the hands of others except for John. The next generation was persecuted to the point of annihilation. And in this country [England] burnings of heretics only faded away in the 17thcentury. Mary Tudor was so prolific in this area that she earned the title “Bloody Mary” and succeeded in executing more in this small realm during her short reign than the Inquisition operating throughout Europe during the same time.
No, it’s actually our quiet time today that is out of the ordinary. Not only are we not asked to hazard our lives as in previous generations, it has actually become quite difficult to do. Normally it happens in foreign lands and at foreign hands.
Few are called to the traditional missionary role in this age. Fewer still are obliged to carry out living their Christian lives in secret. Rather we are actively called in our hostile society to live for God and religion openly. “Let your light shine,” is more than a passive ‘be on show’. When Jesus adds that a city of lights on a hill ‘cannot’ be hidden, the implication is that we are not supposed to hide under a basket; rather we are to plan to allow our Christian light to shine (Matthew 5:10-16). I like the analogy of a lighthouse beam that helps others to navigate safely.
We need to heed our calling and follow it through. But at the same time we also need to realise that Paul told us “evil men will grow worse and worse” (2 Timothy 3:13). And Christians are always going to be on the wrong end of their activities.
Finally, let’s bring our attention to Jesus Christ. Ultimately the Good; ultimately the Innocent, yet he suffered more than all. He was spared no indignity, no pain or torment. He willingly put himself into that position, accepted it with tranquillity (in the main; he was human demonstrating that it isn’t sin to fear the unknown, pain, the unpleasant).He saw it through to the end.
We live in dangerous times, times full of angst and trouble, times which need more than ever the quiet and steady beam of Christian light coming from those who follow Christ. In the midst of trouble, we have peace. We have the security of knowing our ultimate fate—to be with Christ as a brother or sister in his kingdom. Surely an acceptable reward for a moment of trouble.
Our calling, Heavenly Father, is openly to be Christians. That can be hard in our hostile society, so we need and ask for your help. Jesus did it in his hostile environment; we can be as successful with your help. In Jesus’ name we pray.