Friday, January 23, 2009

When Jesus Turns Off The Lights…

When Jesus turns off the lights, the darkness is palpable.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
Rev 2:5

What is the lampstand?Candlestick

According to Rev. 1:20, the seven lampstands in John's vision are the seven churches to which Jesus was about to speak. One of those churches was the church at Ephesus, to which He gave the warning above.


If the lampstand is a church, then what does Jesus mean when He says, "I will remove your lampstand?"


It's a troubling warning, to say the least. 


What is a lampstand's job? Is it the light, or does it hold the light? Does it create light, or just display it?


What happens when the lampstand is removed?

 
Some take it to mean that the church will lose its influence in the world. And I'm sure that's part of the truth. But I'm not convinced it's the whole truth. Because you see, no one lights a candle and puts it under a basket.

Nor do they light a lamp
and put it under a basket,
but on a lampstand,
and it gives light to all
who are in the house.
Mat 5:15

I don’t see Jesus taking away a glowing candle and hiding it under a cover. If He takes away the lampstand, it's because its fire has gone out.

The lampstand isn't merely unable to give away light. No, the truth is far more desolate than that.

It no longer has any light!

If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Mat 6:23

America was once a lampstand. It may not have been a “church,” and may not have appeared in John's vision, but nevertheless, it held up the light for a time.

Watching The Truth Project last night, I heard once again the thundering voices of our nation's founding fathers, proclaiming unashamedly the name of Christ, honoring Him, giving their allegiance to Him, and warning that our nation and its Constitution would collapse if the nation abandoned Christ.  Yes, America once held up the light…imperfectly, because the men who held it were flawed.  As are we.  And what is that light which our nation once displayed?

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
John 8:12

As long as I am in the world,
I am the light of the world."
(Jesus) John 9:5

"You are the light of the world."
(Jesus to the disciples) Mat 5:14

Jesus is the light of the world because He is light. (1 John 1:5)

We are the light of the world because we are the lampstands that hold His light.

Do we hold His light because we've adopted a creed? Because we've prayed a prayer? Because we attend church on Sundays and do good deeds?

No?  Then how do we get this light?

For it is the God who commanded
light to shine out of darkness,
who has shone in our hearts
to give the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face
of Jesus Christ.
2Co 4:6

God shines the light in our hearts! He is the one who gives it. And He is the one who can take it away. (See Job 1:21.)


According to the passage in 2 Corinthians, the light we display is the knowledge of the glory of God...the awesome, holy, pure, incorruptible, unbearably bright Shekinah glory of God...all found in one place and one place alone…in the face of Jesus Christ.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
Rev 2:5


Does this nation even have its lampstand any more?  I have grave doubts.

 
True, there are lights here. There are Christians who carry the light because they behold the glory of God in the face of Christ, and their own faces glow in response. But the world around them still sits in darkness, untouched by their shining.
Why?

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
2Co 4:3-4

And why did God allow Satan, the god of this age, to do this?

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
John 3:19

 

they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
2Th 2:10-12

For those who love darkness, there is a judgment. In poetic justice, God hands down a sentence of perpetual darkness which cannot see even those few shining candles which remain.  Lovers of darkness are blinded.

So where is hope?

  • We must fight for just laws, but laws never cured blindness.
  • We must hate sin and be angry about it, but hatred and anger never restored sight.
  • We must make sure our own lights burn brightly, but no lamp ever made blind eyes see.

Where is hope?  It is in the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who alone can shine into hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  While we fight for just laws, while we hate sin, while we seek to hold up the light, are we beholding His glory in that precious Face?

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2Co 3:18

If our main focus is on our political agendas, we will not be gazing on His face.  If our vision narrows to see only the sin of our neighbor, how will we see Christ?  If the source of our light is not our transformation into His image, then whose light are we really shining?

Why has America lost its light?  It’s not because darkness has overcome it.  Light always triumphs over darkness.  So why is darkness now prevailing?

Have we, as individual believers, lost our light?  Are we trying to replace His light in us by kindling lights of our own?  If so, let us heed this grave warning:

"Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely upon his God.

Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with sparks: walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled— this you shall have from My hand: you shall lie down in torment.
Isa 50:10-11

Beware of self-made lights!

Christians, what is our focus?  Where does our fire come from?  From self, or from gazing on the face of God?

  • If we are not God-centered, there will be no transformation in us. 
  • If we are not God-centered, our hatred and anger towards sin will degenerate into hatred and anger towards our neighbor. 
  • If we are not God-centered, our activism will be ultimately self-centered
  • If we are not God-centered, we will spend far more time trying to change externals by force of will and law than we will spend on our knees pleading with God to grant repentance to those who oppose us (2 Tim. 2:25), and asking Him to shine in their hearts as He has shone in ours.

Father, please grant us repentance, turn our hearts back to You, and enable our lights to shine brightly once more as we gaze upon You.  And then, dear Lord, please open the blinded eyes of those around us, and help them see not us, but You.  You are the Light, and all our lampstands are in Your hands.  Kindle us, Oh Lord, and place us on a hill where we cannot be hidden…not for our glory, but for Yours alone.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Photo from YlvaS via Flicker

6 comments:

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I do believe that God, alone, reserves the right to remove his light from us and our circle of influence accordingly. Certainly as a nation, and even in our church, we don't grasp the full understanding of what we've been given through Jesus Christ, and consequently, the responsibility tied to such a gift.

If we did...if Christians could grasp a holy and fearful understanding of just how gracious a grace has been exacted into our hearts and lives...then, I believe that God's flame would be burning loudly for all the world to see.

I have hope that we will wake up as a nation, as a church, as a unified group of believers who, in fact, understand what it means to be God's reconcilers and light in a world that's yet to bend the knee.

Thus, my prayers for the churches and the preachers and the teachers and the listeners to take hold of all of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of us until we see him face to face and receive our "well done."

That's what I'm after. My well done and yours and theirs. God help me to stay the course.

peace~elaine

LauraLee Shaw said...

When Jesus turns off the lights, the darkness is palpable.

Wow, this is profound. YOu could've broken it up into 3 or 4 posts...so much to chew on, digest, process. I read through it twice and saw it in a different light both times (pun intended). I don't know what else to say. Just wow.

Esthermay said...

Elaine already writes what I would have said and feel.

We haven't a clue the magnitude of responsibility we hold when we call ourselves "Christians." The judgment may be far greater for those who've used and abused the label.

We do not -- nor can we ever -- fully grasp or comprehend the enourmous gift and sacrifice that offers us life itself. We are without excuse as Romans 1 says.

You and I are on the same page on so many issues involving the Church, and the more I read your blog and the more I desire to "preach" on my own blog, I am prodded by the H.S. to examine my own life . . . This post speaks loudly.

The light is the CHURCH yes. . .
The light is individual local churches yes. . .
The light is also you and ME!

Too much for one post
:-)
I need a meditative nap now!

~esthermay

Mary Moss said...

I am so grateful for your wisdom and insights. You are so right, unless we all become/stay God-centered, it will be impossible to bring about the kingdom here on earth.

Laurie M. said...

Wow again. I spent much of my day troubled, thinking and praying about this very thing. I came home and read another friend's blog, who was discussing abortion, and warning against Christians putting their hope and energy in political activism and losing sight of the gospel. Here's the comment I left for him: "I was thinking and praying about this very thing today. Paul and I had a long discussion about it. All our abortion preaching really ends up being preached to the choir, so to speak - Christians working each other into a frustrated rage while no one outside the church is paying the slightest bit of attention to what’s being said, just distantly observing our frenzied behaviour. Ultimately what’s needed are changed hearts and for that to happen the gospel needs to be preached. We live in a country run by its people or at least by politicians who pander to the opinions of the majority of the people. The politics will not change unless the hearts of the people change. Our goal first and foremost should be the preaching of the gospel to sinners. This is the only real hope for this world and the unborn."

Yes, Christ must remain our focus. He alone is our hope. Blessings to you, Betsy. God is useing your simple ministry to encourage and build up His church.

Ed said...

Betsy: Thanks again for reminding me on Whom should be my focus. I am not the light but must be a reflection of His light.

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