Monday, February 21, 2005

Saints Exaggerate What the World Neglects

It’s interesting that this bit of poetic style would appear in the text of 1 John. In it, John transitions from the darkness of hatred to darkness in general. He compares that darkness exhibited in the priorities of most with the realities of the saints.

1 John 2:9-17
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
I write to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, dear children,
because you have known the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

G. K. Chesterson commented, “A saint is one who exaggerates what the world neglects.” That is right on. Look at the John’s list of realities for those in the light: forgiveness, knowledge of God, triumph over the evil one, strength, indwelling of the word, and eternal life. On the other hand, those who are in darkness don’t know where they are going, and they their priorities are the cravings of their bodies, their lustful vision, and pride in temporary stuff. The way John puts it, I can’t help but think that he believes that these differences are more than obvious – they stand out. Saints exaggerate what he world neglects.

How does that happen? I think a spotlight in a theater is a good illustration of how the evil priorities of the world are set in contrast to the life of light. Like a spotlight shines on the stage object that needs to be clearly seen, Christians call attention to the godly things that people need to see. We draw attention in our conversations and sermons to forgiveness, mercy, compassion, justice, love, and righteousness. We say, “Look at these things! They are important! They are eternal values." Then people look more carefully at the heavenly objects to which we are pointing.

Sometimes, it is not the godliness to which we point like a spotlight that exaggerates what the world neglects. You’ve probably turned toward a spotlight and noticed from your dark seat the brightness at the source. Instead of pointing to good things and saying to the world, “Pay attention to that,” the world sees the saints from the darkness of the seats and the light is incredibly bright at its source.

Point out to the world around you what is being neglected. Call attention to those things as if you were a spotlight. Then, live powerfully what the world neglects so that when a backward glance is cast, the brightness of your godly life will shine incredibly bright in the darkness of the theater that is the world. That’s Life at Work!

1 comment:

JD said...

I really like this post, Richard. If we saw our mission as being a light rather than being a wrench, we'd be better off. We like being wrenches better. Wrenches fix things ... they force things ... they make things turn that do not want to turn, and they make a good hammer when nothing else works. Light. I wonder if any of us knows how much light we bear? Thanks for sparking some thoughts here.