I remember driving along the highway a few years ago and seeing a billboard with large letters – GODISNOWHERE. Like most people, the first thing I read as my brain decoded the letters was “God is nowhere.” I thought some group that opposed religion was advertising, but as I got closer I saw that the smaller letters at the bottom pointed a website sponsored by a Christian group. With that information, I re-read the line this way- “God is now here!” The context changed the message.
In my daily work I encounter increasing numbers of people who have concluded either that God is a myth or that the deity is beyond our knowing, no where to be found by ordinary human beings. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this statement – “If God loves us, why is all of this happening in the world?” The question is about the ancient problem of evil. Why does a good God allow such suffering? Is He unable to stop it? Is He playing games with us? Is He remote and uncaring? The full answer to those questions is long and complicated, and involves faith. A short answer is this. God is both good and all powerful and He has given humanity the gift of choice. The Bible tells the story of the Fall – that creation became enslaved to evil when God’s way was set aside for Self-will. We are born into a world where “all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” And, we must be rescued from evil’s grip.
God, at the Cross, identified Himself with the suffering and made a Way for us to be restored to our place in His family, to know His love, to be made good again, in spite of the evil world in which we live. Yes, God is now here! This is the core message of our Christian faith. AND, when we come to Him through faith in Christ Jesus, He makes us spiritually alive, defeating the curse of sin and inviting us into a divine conspiracy (love that phrase though not original with me) to transform our world as His agents, filled with the Spirit’s life.
Leaving the difficult philosophical argument about evil’s existence behind, let me pose a practical question:
What statement about God is made by your daily actions? When people ‘read’ you do they conclude “God is nowhere,” or that “God is now here?”
Those who know Christ Jesus as Savior are being changed but their ability to choose remains. Each day we have the choice to live under God’s reign or to choose to go our own way. Our actions, though they may seem insignificant to us, are consequential, moving us and others toward God or away from Him. We cannot stand still nor remain neutral.
Jesus says to us “Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:15-16, NLT) When we love, the light shines. When we seek to treat others with fairness and justice, the light shines. When we live joyfully, the light shines. When we commit ourselves to excellence, the light shines. When we are generous in spirit and forgiving of the offenses of others, the light shines. … You can add your statement to that list. Being a Light-bearer is the privilege of all who love Jesus. It’s no easy thing, this life of following Jesus and letting the Light shine. It can be costly and we will fail in spite of our best intentions. That is why none other than the Apostle Paul reminds us that “this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NLT)
Christian, our first choice each day is humble reliance on the grace of God shown us in Christ Jesus. We do not shine His Light brightly because we are smart or beautiful. We shine because we are FULL OF THE SPIRIT. The radiance we have is a reflected one, much like that rock we call the moon shines, but not of its own energy. It only reflects the light of the Sun.
We, too, reflect God’s glory, but only as we choose to “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:10-18, NLT)
Would you join me in a commitment to live so that others know that “God is now here!”? Let’s be so full of the Love of God that the rich abundance Jesus promised makes the Gospel the thing of beauty that it is. Let’s pray to live so as to be known as people who belong to Jesus, full of His grace and goodness, with daily actions that reveal a deep love of God and others!
As you head into your day, meditate on this word from the Word. Go, reflect His Light into a world that is dark. “Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom. And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18, NLT)
Shine, Jesus, Shine
(This is the prayer of my heart)
Lord the light of Your love is shining|
In the midst of the darkness shining
Jesus Light of the world shine upon us
Set us free by the truth You now bring us
Shine on me shine on me
Shine Jesus shine
Fill this land
With the Father’s glory
Blaze Spirit blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow river flow
Flood the nations
With grace and mercy
Send forth Your word Lord
And let there be light
Lord I come to Your awesome presence
From the shadows into Your radiance
By the blood I may enter Your brightness
Search me try me consume all my darkness
Shine on me shine on me
As we gaze on Your kingly brightness
So our faces display Your likeness
Ever changing from glory to glory
Mirrored here may our lives tell Your story
Shine on me shine on me
Graham Kendrick © 1987 Make Way Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)
CCLI License # 810055