The Cost of Darkness

Thursday, April 18, 2019 – Holy Week

Do you desire fellowship or darkness? To be known and loved or hidden behind the lies?

“If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:6-7

John is not setting the expectation of sinless perfection. He is also not suggesting we wallow and enjoy sin. The former is unachievable in this mortal flesh and the latter is death by fleshly satisfactions. The deeper call is to be real, broken human beings. He is inviting us to trust in the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin. He invites us into the light as broken, sinful human beings.

What is the cost of living in darkness?

1.  Darkness is a choice to live a life of pretense – a lie. It is a choice to live falsely before God and others.  To hide my brokenness in the shadows is to pretend I am something I’m not. This costs me my humanity and a lot of energy to keep up the facade, the mask. It is truly a deadly choice to depend on my goodness, my ‘performance’ rather than His grace! It is a risk to surrender to love, but to forsake pretense and walk in the light is a step toward embracing abundant life.

2. Darkness costs connection. It is to live distant and disconnected from God and others – to forfeit relationships bathed in loving truth, compassion and acceptance. The truth is we only enjoy real relationships when we show up real — broken, repentant, and loved, not as pretentiously pious performers. The darkness, deception and pretense cost me connection with God and with you.

I choose to let go of “appearances” (and the press clippings I might like to believe) and pursue real life giving relationships. This means I show up broken, weak and radically dependent upon the unconditional grace and love of Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul said:

I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses … For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2Corinthians 12:9-10

The reward is knowing Christ and the power and love of God! Will you risk walking in the light, being known and embracing real relationships?

The light and love of God changes everything – let’s walk in it together.

Encouragement!

by Rob Gibson           June 17, 2016

Post #8 in: Gleanings from a Sabbatical Journey…

I just returned from a national convention of similarly striped religious types. It triggered someone in me, someone I want dead, as well as someone I want to thrive. I want a critical spirit to die and the loving encourager to thrive. 
Along my sabbatical journey, I read a piece that stuck me. It resonated too deeply for comfort and uncovered a deadly part of me. The sub-heading was “ The Compulsive Minister” — One who is angry and greedy for more. It slew me when I read:
“Pastors are angry at their leaders for not leading and at their followers for not following. They are angry at those who do not come to church for not coming and angry at those who come for coming without enthusiasm. They are angry at their families, who make them feel guilty, and angry at themselves for not being who they want to be. This is not an open, blatant, roaring anger, but anger hidden behind the smooth word, the smiling face, and the polite handshake. It is a frozen anger, an anger which settles into a biting resentment and slowly paralyzes a generous heart.” The Way of the Heart, Henri J.M. Nouwen

This pricked me as it revealed a seething dissatisfaction with myself and the results I greedily demand. It was triggered this week as demands for more baptisms, more passion, more of a burdened heart, more, more, and more were intensely preached. The desired results had been weighed and measured and found lacking.
I have a perpetually active evaluator in my head, heaping the messages “not enough,” “get it right,” and “do more” at me all the time. I do not need anybody singing with that choir. Rather, the choir we all need to hear more is a gospel choir, and the gospel is good news, not condemnation. The gospel is that Jesus Christ loved you and me to death, in spite of our falling short of the mark. His love is not measured or withheld based on our performance but rather abundantly flowing to us like the perpetually deep and fresh waters of a raging waterfall. The rivers of grace are full, even when I am empty and my striving stumbles and stalls. 

What I need and I believe the church and the world needs is a lot more Barnabas! Barnabas is a name that means “son of encouragement.” Barnabas encouraged the Christian community and the Apostles by his generosity (Acts 4:36-37). When Paul returned to Jerusalem, after his conversion, it was Barnabas that encouragingly introduced this former murderous persecutor of the church to the Apostles (Acts 9:27) when they were afraid of him and seriously doubted his Christianity. The son of encouragement propelled the greatest missionary ever to press on. He didn’t identify all the failures, foibles or faults in the man, which, by his own admission, were many (1Tim 1:15). Rather he focused on the possibilities, the opportunities and what could be. 

Like Jesus with Peter after his triple denial, he did not castigate his friend, but knew there was a passionate loving shepherd in Peter that needed to be encouraged to step into the love and power within him (2Tim 1:7). Jesus was an encourager — encouraging each of us to embrace the truth of his love for us. He invited sinners to lay down deadly ways of self-satisfaction and to receive the abundant life he offers (John 10:10). 

I want to be a Barnabas, not a critic. I want to live in Jesus abundant love and walk kindly, patiently and generously with others in the light of his love, even when we miss the mark. Let’s encourage each other to live in the freedom and love that is ours in Christ and run together into the glory that is increasingly ours in Christ (2Cor. 4:17-18).