Today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity.
We cannot be complacent in these troubled times. As 21st-century Christ followers, we cannot deny that we live in difficult times: times of great moral relativism, cultural decadence, spiritual apathy and ecclesiastical lukewarmness. For many, the obituary of Bible-believing, Christ-centered Christianity seems, for all practical purposes, written and poised to be published in the annals of history.
Yet there exists one fundamental truth poised to thwart any and all premature burials of this powerful faith narrative: The gates of hell cannot, may not, shall not, will not prevail against the church of Jesus Christ.
To that regard, I stand convicted and convinced that our Christian faith and our Judeo-Christian value system will not only survive these troubled times, but, surprisingly, we may very well stand at the precipice of an awakening that will enable us to do nothing less than thrive.
Parenthetically, while our Bible-based, Christ-centered values and mores stand under unprecedented assault, the No. 1 problem confronting the church in America and around the world may be nothing other than a church either willing to sacrifice truth on the altar of political and cultural expediency or unable to elevate corresponding truth with love.
In other words, the prophetic prescription for these pathetic times resides in the children of the cross committed to reconciling righteousness with justice, sanctification with service, holiness with humility, conviction with compassion, rhetoric with tone, and truth with love. This reconciliatory prescription stands captured in a simple two-word admonition: “Be light.”
COVERAGE: The 2016 Wilberforce Weekend
Accordingly, it behooves us to ask, “What does it mean to ‘be light?’ How can you best define this idea?” To “be light” can best be described as the nexus of the Christian message; the place where we reconcile the optic of redemption with the metric of reconciliation. In function, it serves to replace angry evangelicalism with a loving, grace-filled presentation of the Gospel message. In form, it elevates the idea that Christianity is not about what we attempt to impose, but rather what we propose: a personal relationship with God through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
In its essence, to “be light” reminds us that Christianity stands measured not by the variable of rhetorical eloquence, but rather by the constant of loving actions.
Correspondingly, in Matthew 5:14-16, our Lord and Savior uttered a powerful declaration, exhorting us to shine the light of this loving truth. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Tangentially, our prophetic light requires an unshakable stand. This Christ-rendered exhortation compels us to embrace the transcendent and transformational reality that we may have “light,” but it may very well be hidden under the “bowl” of anger, complacency, apathy and religious exuberance. Further, the implicit yet convicting narrative reveals that the “light” is only as good as it where it stands.
For at the end of the day, if we are to “be light,” then we must remove all vestiges of contention, bitterness, apathy, complacency and anger while we shine on the stand of God’s word, projecting grace. For this we know for certain, as we stand on love and elevate biblical truth, the beauty of Christ will shine; beauty incarnate indeed! Then and only then can we proceed with the unbridled certainty of this physical and spiritual undeniable fact: When light stands next to darkness, light always wins.
In conclusion, while religion requires us to get rid of darkness in order to prompt the light to shine, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus conveys the very opposite; be light and darkness will flee. For at the end of the day, we stand empowered by God’s Spirit to “be holy,” “be one” and “be light.”
Then and only then can we change the world. Be light!
• Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the nation’s largest organization for Hispanic Christian Evangelicals. (www.NHCLC.org.) This excerpt is from his April 9 remarks at the Wilberforce Weekend, and is based on his new book, “Be Light: Shining God’s Beauty, Truth, and Hope into a Darkened World” (Waterbrook, 2016).