The message from the preacher on Sunday focused on the dark world we live in, seemingly darker than ever, and how followers of Christ should live within it. But, is the world any darker than it has ever been? My generation certainly thinks so.
Paul wrote to the church at Philippi over 2000 years ago, “so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.”
It seems as though the world was dark, and is dark. The difference in degrees of darkness we cannot measure. But the admonition from Jesus for his followers is clear:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Why would Jesus ask his followers to be light, if the world was already light? No, the implication is, we live in a dark world, run by the “Prince of Darkness.” Will it become darker? Probably. Should Jesus’ followers be concerned? He knew the persecution his followers would undergo, and yet wrote these words of encouragement,
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
So, how should followers of Christ live out their lives in the “midst of a crooked and perverse generation?” I think the answer lies in Jesus words when he gave us what has been referred to as the model prayer.
“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Some might wonder what Jesus meant with those words. I think the book of Revelation gives us a unique view of what goes on in heaven.
“…and day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.’ And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.'”
I could go on and on with John’s descriptions of what heaven is like, but I believe when Jesus prays for God’s will to be done here on earth as in heaven, his vision goes back to the creation. Man was created to worship, praise, and give glory to God. Unceasingly. In the midst of the darkness. In the midst of all sorts of trials and temptations.
The darkness will be here until Christ’s return. We may not be, but until we go home, we have our instructions.
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”