July 20, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because the fulfillment of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Romans 13.11-14)
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become [clothed with] the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5.21)
The premise of yesterday’s reflection was that we, as mighty ones of God and followers of the Way of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, should dress for Kingdom success. Regardless of how the world defines success today and how it has changes as to the means of accomplishing it, world success is not Kingdom success. How then do we dress for Kingdom success? Paul says “we put on Christ.” We dress for success in the “light of day” instead of covering ourselves with “darkness.” Darkness actually speaks to life in the world and of the world. It is a shadowy presentation of the truth which is the light of the world, the light of all people and the light by which we shall be known as a city set on a hill. It actually makes sense since those who perpetrate evil usually act under the cover of darkness. That is until the present age. In the present age, the cover has been lifted from a literal darkness to reveal the darkness of the world even during the daytime. The depth of despair and evil is now coming to light. It is as if the darkness no longer fears the light of day. Look at all the evil perpetrated in these days. The percentage of violent crimes committed in the daylight hours is on the rise. The fear of being caught, the fear of prosecution and the fear of accountability is exponentially diminishing. Everything is coming out of the closets, the backrooms and the dark alleys. The world has transacted with confidence the exchange of truth for a lie. It is a sign of the desperate times prophesied by scripture which will lead up to the “light of that day” yet to come.
This is the “light” that Paul was teaching about to the faith community in Rome and throughout the Roman Empire. He was directing the vision of the people to see the future light which comes over the world at Jesus’ return as the glorified Christ of God. When the Bridegroom in ancient Middle Eastern tradition comes to claim his bride and to take her to be with him where he is going, he comes like a “thief in the night.” This is not a deception. This is not to express an evil intent. It is about preparedness because evil more often comes in the darkness. The parable of the “wise and foolish virgins” indicate the consequence of not being prepared by tending to their “light.” When the Bridegroom comes, those who are prepared are welcomed into the house for the wedding party. Those who are not prepared are left “in the dark.” They have chosen to live the unprepared life forever distant from the joy of “the light of day.” What is that “light of day?” It is none other than Jesus Christ Himself.
He is the true light of righteousness. In Him there is no shadow of doubt, death and fear. In His presence, we are surrounded by light. That light drives away the darkness and the enemy within it who prowls waiting for our light to diminish so that we would be consumed. In terms of an established camp with the firepit burning to establish the “light” perimeter, those who put on righteousness would actually not be warming themselves by the fire nor would they be sleeping in tents near the fire. Instead, they, like Shadrach and Meshach and Abedneggo, would be in the fire untouched and unscathed protected by the cover of His righteousness. When Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount “you are the light of the world just as a city set on a hill cannot be hidden,” it was with the understanding that they were not a part of the city or holding a torchlight. It was presented with the understanding that they themselves, each person of faith in the righteousness of God, was the torch and was the city. That city to which Jesus alluded was Jerusalem on Mt. Zion. It was a call to the righteousness which God had extended to Abraham with the promise of being taken to a place of global fulfillment. When Abraham first approached that city set on a hill visible for miles and miles under the leadership of Melchizadek, its name was Salem. Salem translates into the word “peace.” In Arabic, it would have been Salaam. In Hebrew/Aramaic, it would have been Shalom. Those words remain common greetings today indicating the blessing of peace on those would receive it and them. When Abraham accepted the mantel of responsibility in that place, the city’s name changed to Ur-Salem, “the Light of Peace.” Abraham had come from the Ur of the Chaldees or “the presence of light of the Chaldeans.” Ur-Salem indicated a connecting of the past and the present pointing to the future Jerusalem, “Jehovah’s light of peace” or the righteousness of God.
So, when Jesus tells His listening audience scattered across the hillside above the Sea of Galilee, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then you will know the provision which He has made for all that is needed,” He was speaking to that “light of day” which comes with being prepared for the return of the King of kings and Lord of lords. And what would be the consequence of His return? It would be nothing less than being clothed with “Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” They would be brought into the light of the promise of God’s mercy, grace and peace. They would be covered by it and nothing would be hidden from them that was intended for their good. It is no wonder why the people flocked to hear the words of this Good Shepherd. They were living in the culture and climate of dark times which paraded around in the light of their day and not in the light of “that day.” But, for them, that “day” was not only coming but had come. Doesn’t it make you wonder why we live today as if we are ruled by the darkness when the “light” has come upon us in spirit and in truth? Might it point our thinking today to the level of accountability that we have not truly put on the light of righteousness nor its accompanying peace? As mighty ones of God and followers of the Way of Christ, are we parading around as if we are adorned in the “emperor’s new clothes” which was no clothes at all?
More about being “clothed in righteousness” tomorrow as we embrace God’s shalom today.
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
Father, may the light of Your mercy and grace illumine our way with the truth that secures the life which cannot be taken away. It is by You alone that we have hope, that hope which has come to light in us, on us and through us in Jesus the Christ who indeed is the light of the world and the Light of all lights. May His light of faith, hope and love burn brightly today as we declare our place with Him as His disciples. In His name we pray, AMEN.