The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
On those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
Living in the very north of England, where at the moment the sun sets at 3.30 pm—and we haven’t got to the shortest day yet—a grace-filled encounter with the Light of the World, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, seems particularly appropriate.
Christmas brings a message of hope in a very dark world. Many are struggling with distress or difficulty, maybe with sickness, unemployment or family problems. And on the world stage there is famine, war, brutality, murder and civil unrest; all reminders that we live in a fallen world, a world under the influence of the Evil One.
It is good to remember amidst the daily news-reports of destruction and suffering, and the serious issues which cloud our horizons, that the Lord has not been taken by surprise, and He isn't in retreat.
His answer has always been to come in the midst of darkness and meet people where they are, bringing His light and transformation.
This is the message of Christmas.
AN ALTERNATIVE KINGDOM
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end…..
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
Notice that this child would bring His government with Him—not a political regime, as Jesus was at pains to emphasise [John 18:36]—but a spiritual government in opposition to the spiritual powers of darkness, which wreak such devastation on the material world. We love the simple beauty of the birth stories, but on that momentous night, in the quietness and darkness, there was an invasion by another Kingdom; the light of Heaven had invaded earth. From that moment on, the powers of darkness were in retreat [1 John 3:7].
During Jesus’ ministry, every healing and deliverance, every miracle of provision, every raising from the dead, was a victorious assault on the Evil One, a declaration that the Kingdom (or rule) of Heaven was at hand; until finally through Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, the principalities and powers were completely defeated—for all time. Then—and this is the crunchy bit—He commissioned His people with the task of enforcing that victory. Our calling as His followers is to co-partner with Him in bringing His Kingdom to a needy world.
So often Christians take the view that bad stuff happens because it is ‘God’s will’ and He wants to ‘teach’ us something. Jesus was the exact representation of the Father [Hebrews 1:3], and His response to evil was to conquer it; so He healed the sick, set the oppressed free, fed the hungry, and continually declared the favour of God. And despite what the world, or our circumstances look like, His Word says, ‘Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end…’ meaning that the Lord has an expectation of His Kingdom rule continuing to advance, as we, His people, co-operate with Him.
‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.’
The Light of the World has come. Light by its very nature always dispels darkness; so this Christmas let’s counter the dark areas in our personal lives, in our families and communities with an invitation to Jesus to come and flood the darkness with His light, and pour out His grace on our need.
THIS WEEK'S GRACE RHYTHM:
‘And we pray that you would be energized with all his explosive power
from the realm of his magnificent glory, filling you with great hope.
Your hearts can soar with joyful gratitude when you think of how God made you worthy to receive the glorious inheritance freely given to us by living in the light.
He has rescued us completely from the tyrannical rule of darkness
and has translated us into the kingdom realm of his beloved Son.
For in the Son all our sins are canceled
and we have the release of redemption through his very blood.’
[Colossians 1:11-14 Passion translation]
NEXT WEEK: NEEDING HEAVEN'S PEACE?
This Christmas, let’s stir up our faith to receive what Jesus paid such a price to give us...
GET IN TOUCH!
[Photo credits: David Gabric (lantern); Pro Church Media (crown); Tim Umphreys (candle) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
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