Navigating the ShadowsJuly 1, 2023 2023-07-01 7:57
Navigating the Shadows
Navigating the Shadows
We are seeing a purposeful push in our society to accept sin. I read today where Audrey Assad, a well known Catholic artist tweeted out “Happy Pride Month. I love and celebrate you” and followed these words with four rainbows symbolic of the homosexual movement. Homosexuality is just one area where the enemy is pushing. This is not the first time we have seen society move away from the Lord. We can look back just a few decades when sexuality was so taboo that television husbands such as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo did not even sleep in the same bed. Sex never should have been seen as something to be hidden between a husband and wife, but my point is that spirit of this world has great influence. Years ago, there was a push to accept sex outside of marriage and we were told by society it was hateful and mean to say that sex was to remain within boundaries of marriage between a man and a woman. Society is no longer pushing sex outside of marriage with great effort. There is no need. It is basically accepted in our culture today. Even in the church, fornication, sex outside of marriage, has become very acceptable. Homosexuality is pushing in the same direction. Abortion is also driving toward total acceptance. What will come next? Who knows? Will it be pedophilia, euthanasia, post-birth abortions? It’s a sinful world, but we should not act as if we are surprised by this. We should not be shocked, nor offended. Jesus clearly told us this is how the world will be right up until He returns.
The Bible clearly teaches us that Satan is the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). He has been given authority by God to bring temptation to a world that loves darkness (John 3:19).
How should we respond? We have to remember that we walk a valley of shadows. Shadows make things darker, but they have no substance. I suppose if someone had a psychological issue with shadows, they would be terrified to see one. But most of us understand shadows to be what they are. They are lifeless, disproportionate distortions resembling something that is real. Societal trends are shadows making things seem darker than they are.
It has always stood out to me that Jesus enjoyed ministering in an intimate way. He met the woman at the well. He did not meet her surrounded by other women with a checkered past. Jesus met with tax collectors, but life-change took place when he ministered to them individually. Remember that wee little man Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Jesus did not attempt to minister to him at a tax collector conference. He did not minister to prostitutes by going to brothels. And though the Pharisees as a whole rejected Jesus, there were some who came to him privately. Jesus spoke to them heart to heart. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were two of these. Nicodemus became a private follower of Christ while remaining in the religious ruling class. He even spoke up in an effort to protect Jesus at one point against his fellow Pharisees (John 7:50-52). And the two of these were compassionate toward Christ especially after His death at Calvary. There was a great deal of ministry done with crowds, but the significant life-change that we see in Jesus’ ministry comes from intimate settings of very small groups with Jesus speaking to an individual, not a large crowd. The shadows may be dark but the light still shines through.
Another successful campaign the enemy has perpetrated upon Christianity is the belief that if we speak to anyone individually about Jesus Christ, they will somehow be offended. I suppose this may be true in some instances, but for the most part, when we talk about how God loves, the light in us drives out the societal shadows from the hearts of men. The Bible says that we do not even need to worry about what to say to people when we talk to them about God. The Holy Spirit will give us the words we need (Luke 12:12). Is not the Holy Spirit the full embodiment of love? Will the words He gives not be filled with love? If our motive is love for the other person, not judgment of their sin, the Holy Spirit can give us the right words to pierce through all darkness regardless of the shadowy trends of our culture. This is truth whether we are speaking to a gay, Buddhist friend, or our own children.
We will not win the world in the arena of mass media nor social media. These can be great instruments to shout God’s goodness from the rooftops. But life-change occurs away from the crowd. Some will reject this love, no doubt. If people rejected Jesus in the flesh, many will also reject the Holy Spirit. But we need not over-react to the movement of society. The social movement away from God is no match for the love of Christ shared face to face, heart to heart.
Society has been moving this direction since the beginning of time and it will continue to do so. We do not need to be filled with fear. Nor should we be filled with anger over the direction it is moving. We have been called to do what God did for us-rescue people out of darkness, one person at a time.
Ecclesiastes teaches there is strength in numbers (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). This is true if the number of people are fighting for good or if they are fighting for evil. There will be some success in trying to persuade the mob marching away from God . But we have been called to a personal, heart-to-heart, deep-crying-out-to-deep ministry. Don’t let the shadows fool you. Societal trends give the appearance that wickedness is winning. Believe it or not, the Roman empire was just as iniquitous as our world seems today. It was a long, dark shadow of evil. But the Light of the Jesus Christ pierced that darkness. The church was born and the Light prevailed. It prevailed in the moments where people could minister in moments isolated from the mob.
Society is going to go where society is going to go. And we know it is not going to move closer to God. But the shadows will dissipate as we speak the love of God into solitary hearts as God provides a moment away from the crowd.
How have you seen the darkness defeated through individual or small group conversations? Let me know. I would love to hear the stories.