June 20 is one of my favorite days of the year. It is the summer solstice–the day in the Northern Hemisphere when the sun’s light is visible for the longest amount of time. For a few glorious months, the light overcomes the darkness. Time itself seems to slow as we drop our frantic rush to complete the tasks of the day and revel in the knowledge that there is enough time, enough light, to accomplish all we need to accomplish. In early summer, my soul takes a breath and stills, for a bit, basking in the glow of a pink and peach sunset at almost nine o’clock in the evening. The light brings peace, contentment, and hope.
I recognize that I am writing these words in the midst of a raging pandemic and civil unrest. I understand that for many, the extra light this year is not an invitation for peace, contentment, and hope to enter in and sit a spell. Rather, it is a time for anxiety, frustration, and disillusionment to continue their long march across our souls…across our nation…across the fabric of our lives. Somehow, in 2020, the darkness seems endless. Despite the prevalence of light, the world seems to be falling apart, and many people are tired and scared and don’t know what to do. Every decision is fraught with peril…there seem to be no right answers. In our house, we can’t even decide whether or not to send our son to Scout camp in mid-July. It’s maddening, especially if you’re like me and appreciate routine and structure.
This year, I’ve been starting each day with a devotional from Lloyd John Ogilvie’s book, God’s Best for My Life. Today’s message focused on the light of Christ, and how that light lived out in our lives can impact the world. Ogilivie writes that:
The purpose of [a Christian’s] life is to be a commanding witness for Jesus Christ in a dark world. What we believe, what Christ means to us, and what He has done in our character cannot be hidden.God’s Best for My Life
God is light, and we, his followers, are his light-bearers. We are the ones who bring the message of hope and good news to a world drowning in the chaos of darkness. It is we, the Jesus People, who are to tend to God’s light within us so that we can be a beacon for others. As Ogilivie writes, we shine God’s light by living a “dynamic life in the light.” But, what does that “dynamic life” look like?
Paul tells the Ephesians that a “dynamic life” is one that produces goodness, justice, and truth. It is a stark contrast to the corruption, injustice, and false idols we have adopted in our society. Living a “dynamic life” means that we must reject hate and hate-mongering, wherever or from whomever it comes from. We must embrace goodness, not the Pollyanna-esque naivety that is often associated with the word, but goodness that comes from a life centered on doing God’s will–of embracing and expressing love, peace, grace, mercy, and forgiveness to all who we engage with on a daily basis. Our words and actions, when driven by God’s light within us, cannot tear down others. Rather, they seek to build and strengthen goodness in our families, our friendships, our communities, our country, and our world.
A “dynamic life” lived in God’s light also produces justice. We forget that one of the most important characteristics of God is that he is just. Not only is he just, but he demands that his people practice justice. From Old Testament to New, justice is a key fruit of a God-filled life. Therefore, as Jesus followers, we must also seek justice. We must call out injustice when we see it, and work to better understand the prejudices ingrained within us and in our culture in order to seek a more just society. Living justly means listening to others whose experiences have been different from ours, and seeking to understand rather than to be understood. We cannot fight injustice if we do not recognize it, and we cannot recognize it if we do not listen to those who have experienced it.
Finally, Paul tells us that a “dynamic life” lived in God’s light produces truth. This is the truth of God which is summed up in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ came to earth and lived among us, he sacrificed himself for our sins, and he conquered death by rising from the grave. God’s truth is that love, life, and light win… always, forever…. God’s truth is that we were created in love, we live in love, and we are destined to spend eternity in love.
God has given us his light. It is in Scripture, in the Spirit which dwells among us, in our relationships bound together by God’s presence. The world is desperate for God’s light. Today, consider how you might live a “dynamic life” that produces goodness, justice, and truth that others may follow into a world of light.
Blessings and Peace