"Wow! Did you see that one?"
"Look! The pinks and reds are gorgeous!"
All fireworks are created to explode into something beautiful. But when mass amounts are all lit at once, the splattering array is absolutely breathtaking.
The same is true for the Bride of Christ, the Church. She is created to be His Light in the world. A brilliant display of His beauty, love and grace. She's sacred, holy, and can simply take your breath away.
Thumbing through the calendar pages of 2018, thinking about what might be in store for the Church, I can't predict whether Her Light will dazzle or fizzle. All I know is, the spiritual spark lit within Her has the capacity to either be a brilliant display of the Light of the world, or a fizzle-dud that burns out as quickly as it began. From my point of view, 2017 proved to be more fizzle than spark.
So, how can the Church make sure Her radiance doesn't fizzle out completely in 2018? It will take all of us, our individual lights, doing our part and recommitting to the following:
- Abide in Christ.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me (John 15:4 NASB).
To produce the sweet fruit we are designed to produce, we must remain firmly attached to our Source of life, soaking in every bit of nourishment we can hold. The fruit we're called to bear is the character of Christ, fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), bursting forth with His beauty and the sweet taste of His goodness, mercy and grace.
- Be holy.
(L)ike the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;
(1 Peter 1:15 NASB).
Being holy does not mean living perfect lives. Only Christ was perfect. Though we're incapable of living perfect lives, we do have the power within us through the Holy Spirit to overcome sin. The holiness we're called to is embracing a life lived separate from the world.
Holy means "set apart." Our behavior in this world exudes either our holy calling, or our conformity to the world. The Church cannot expect the world to jump on board if She is only offering the same thing they see everyday in a hopeless world.
Holiness impacts the world for God's glory.
Conformity impacts the world for God's detriment.
- Spread the Word.
The Word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued
to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were
becoming obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7 NASB).
The Gospel (the good news) of Jesus Christ is key in breaking through the darkness of this messed up world. It's the only Word that can penetrate a heart of hardness and hopelessness. We carry that key with us everywhere we go, and we're held accountable for how well we "show and tell" the Gospel to the world.
My favorite visual of real Gospel living is dropping colorful confetti on those we cross paths with everyday. Who doesn't like watching confetti drop after a big championship game?Confetti is a symbol of celebration. It marks that a team has overcome. It brings smiles to the faces of those under the delicate landing of small pieces of colorful paper everywhere. Sometimes it even sticks to those it falls on. The Church is a Team of Overcomers. We should live celebratory lives and behave accordingly.
In 2018, I'm praying for drastic change in how the Church displays God's glory this year. A change that is much needed if we are to remain His agent of Light in a very dark and hopeless world. This change, though, begins with me and with you. It's not about how much the Church can look and act like the world, still claiming to not be part of it. It's all about how much She can look and behave like Christ. Her lifestyle of lifting Christ up is what draws those from the outside in. We're overcomers because of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ! The world needs us to live like it.
What do you say we dazzle the world this year?
Will you take the 2018 challenge?
Abide in Christ. Be holy. Spread the Gospel.
Oh, and don't forget to drop some confetti along the way. It just might stick to someone who needs it!