My favorite band, NEEDTOBREATHE, has an amazing song called “Difference Maker,” and the following lyrics near the end of the song read (or sing) as follows:
“And we are all transgressors, we’re all sinners, we’re all astronauts/
So if you’re beating death then raise your hand but shut up if you’re not…”
My first thought when I heard this was, “Wow, guys, that sounds a little violent. Why are we telling people to shut up?! Also…are we all astronauts? Tough cookies, not all of us have the NASA brains necessary for such a lifestyle.”
Okay, but for real. Here’s what I think they are saying.
We’ve all screwed up, we’ve all sinned against others, we’re all strangers on this planet in a way. If you want to fight the death in this world, raise your hand and put your gloves on. If you want to add to the death by not fighting it, shut up and let those of us who want to push back the darkness do our work.
Hmm…that sounds familiar. Oh, right.
What did Jesus come to do? Push back the darkness. Be the Light. You can’t get much brighter than “The Light of the World.”
Let’s see what the Bible has to say about darkness and light.
* The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)
* To give light to those who sit in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Lk 1:79)
*Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
*He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col 1:13-14)
*The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matt 6:22-23)
You were made for the light. For Christ.If you don’t know Him, you can be assured you were made for Him, and your heart won’t be at rest until you realize it. Darkness might be a common place to be, but it’s not where life is.
Let’s get practical. Here are 5 ways to fight the darkness in this world in a way that will make a difference.
1) GIVE UNTIL IT HURTS. THEN GIVE SOME MORE.
A generous heart is a beautiful heart. Why is it that stories of people giving to others pulls at our heartstrings? Why is it that I am always WEEPING, not just crying, but WEEPING at the end of every episode of Undercover Boss? (Just me?) Because generosity rocks our world. Literally. We want to be brave enough and bold enough and willing enough to give the best of what we have to someone else. It’s the heart of Jesus to give out of what we have- be it a little or a lot. We have been given SO much. To give of what we have, if we are being filled in Christ, is a step of faith. The point is not to be rewarded by warm fuzzies of happiness (although this is a common side effect), but to show the world that true love looks like arms spread wide on a cross, giving everything, not like sitting in a corner hoarding ALL OF THE THINGS that will burn, burn, burn.
It just doesn’t make sense to the world for you to give something to others if you don’t have much to spare.
That’s Kingdom thinking, not earthly thinking. Death fighting style.
2) WORD UP.
The Bible makes some pretty radical promises about where and what we are heading towards if we are believers. Try no more sadness, sorrow, or tears…and that’s just a start! In the meantime, we are like aliens in a foreign land. Astronauts. This world is not our home, but while we are here, we are expected to do some seriously amazing stuff in the power of the Holy Spirit. The only way to know how to be in this world is to read the Bible. A Christian who is in the Word will be changed by what she reads, and she won’t have to ask “WWJD?” in the moment because she’ll be able to find that in the power of the Spirit, she acted like Christ looking back. In order to know what we have in Christ, and how to be little revolutionaries in the world, we can’t just be guessing at it, because our hearts are deceitful. We have to know the Word and let it transform us from the inside out. The point is to be a bright light that pokes holes in a dark world, not flow with the status quo. Status quo doesn’t fight death worth beans. But “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Boom. You want a revolution? There it is.
3) CAN WE GIVE SOME SERVICE OVER HERE, PLEASE!?
In Christ we see the craziest things, maybe THE CRAZIEST being that the King of the entire world came to earth in human form to serve US. We’re talking GOD, people, not your next door neighbor. He humbled himself to be a servant of all. However, speaking of your neighbor, that’s exactly the person God wants you to serve. “Love your neighbor” isn’t just a nice platitude, it’s the second most important thing we need to do, according to Jesus, right after loving God. Notice how God doesn’t specify who your neighbor is.We don’t get an easy out. It’s God’s way of saying, “Hate to break this to you…but everyone is your neighbor. Yeah, that means your boss. Also your crazy aunt. Also your actual neighbor Bob with his awful cat. Sorry not sorry.”
We don’t get to choose our neighbors. But if we love them and look for ways to serve them, we will look like Jesus, and death won’t have a chance of slipping in to our relationships. Hint: it changes you, even if it doesn’t change them. If we are busy serving others, we won’t be looking for reasons to critique them or find ways that they can serve us. We will step up in love, and fight for life.
4) COMMUNE. IN UNITY.
It seems pretty simple, but it often goes unnoticed that the more we isolate ourselves, the more selfish we become. If you don’t put yourself in the lives of others, or let them come into yours, you only have to worry about your needs. Okay, let’s be honest, your WANTS. We are all already selfish enough without being isolated to take care of our own needs, and usually we have plenty of wants taken care of too. Community is an awesome way to kick selfishness in the pants. It’s only in community that you can hear about someone’s run-down car situation and feel that prick of the Holy Spirit telling them to lend them your wheels for the week. It’s only in community that you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough with someone else to let them know that you need some more emotional support to get through the next few weeks of your Dad’s cancer treatment. Community means you don’t get to slip out the back door, and you don’t get to harbor your secret sins. You allow people to speak into your life with the love of Christ, and they fight the darkness in you as you fight their darkness too. If they aren’t strong enough to avoid a certain sin pattern on their own, you can set up blockades for them, ask them consistently how they are doing, and know that you are on their side to fight the darkness inside of them. We all have darkness inside, we’re sinners. It’s kind of our default mode- and even when we are in Christ, we still struggle. Find someone to help you in your struggle–to call out the light inside of you, and battle death. They aren’t going to let you sit in darkness and get away with it. They’ll open the windows of your soul, kick out the cobwebs, and call you to life.
5) YOU’RE A WARRIOR. PRAYER EDITION.
You have the ability to change the world. Prayer is powerful, if only for the reason that when we bring ourselves before God in a humble posture of prayer, maybe the most important thing that happens is that it changes us. In prayer, Jesus changes us into people that can go out and change the world. Not because we’re such radical awesome humans, but because time spent in intimate communion with God changes us, makes us into the kind of people that can have more of an influence on the darkness in the world than anyone without Christ could ever have. In prayer we find God’s will for the world and pray in line with that. We lift others up before His throne, trusting that He hears us and will move in the way that pleases Him best. We know how this story is going to end, and since God Himself is the author, we can trust Him with every page of the story.
The ending is REALLY good, too. Trust me. Death loses big time.
The FINAL WORD.
Christ on the cross says, there is suffering, and I am with you in it. Nothing about your hard times is foreign to me, nothing goes unseen in your life. Christ risen from the grave says, “Death does not get the final word. The final word is life itself. I AM the light of the world, the final word.”
Death, where is your sting?
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated.
As people who know that death will not have the final word, we will fight it until the end, until death in every form is vanquished and done for. I recommend you raise your hand and get a MOVE ON. God gets the final word, and victory is certain. Fighting death is messy business, and it IS violent. We fight with love and truth and prayer and we won’t back down. We are vicious. We are victorious. We are His.
And if you’re not fighting death, get out of our way.