Friday, December 25, 2015

The Light Shines

I'm writing this from Northfield where Toni and I have come to spend a few days. We got here this morning, spent time in worship with family and others, had a good meal, and, while Toni and her family were helping clean up, I came back to the Dahlin home with the dog and had a nice nap. Now I'm refreshed and feel like spending a little time here on this blog.

This was the first Christmas since sometime in the early 1980s that I wasn't involved in leading worship or preaching. Yesterday I was driving bus so didn't "go to church." We sang a few carols and read the Christmas story at my brother's family home, but it wasn't until this morning that I gathered with a group beyond just family to praise and pray and hear the Word--at a church that is still part of the denomination I resigned from 5 years ago.

When I was there I wrote this:
Jesus is God. Thru Him Light shines in dark places. Even in the broken church that proclaims Him.
At the time I wasn't thinking about any particular denomination or church body. Every church is broken in one way or another. Every church group (and every believer!) misses important parts of the truth or focuses too strongly on one thing or another. Churches are broken when they neglect facets of God's Truth, or when they teach things that aren't based on Jesus: traditions and customs or an emphasis on "feelings" that Jesus most certainly rejects because they lead away from truth, as he rejected and dealt harshly with the religious leaders and customs of His day.

However, while I was at the church today, the Lord directed my attention, not toward failings, but, instead, toward Jesus and His Glory. The carols of Faith, the words from Isaiah and the Gospel of John and the Epistle to the Hebrews proclaiming "the Word of God Made Flesh," they broke through and made my heart sing.

I will still pray and work for the restoration of the Truth in Christ's broken church (now from the outside). I will still call out error when I see it and hope for Bible-based debate. But because Jesus is God, He, and His Truth, will come through to believing hearts when God's Word is preached or read when we have ears to hear it.

At worship today the Word was read with all its power. In applying the Word, the preacher shared good things, though, as a family member mentioned afterward, he neglected John 1:11-12, where the Lord speaks to us about the division that's caused when some receive Jesus and believe in His name, and others do not. But even so, the darkness of that omission did not defeat Jesus, who always comes through His Word and works His wonders.

Jesus is God. He will not be defeated. He will not be turned aside. Omissions and errors, feelings and traditions, they will not win. The light will always shine in the darkness, and the darkness will not defeat it. As Martin Luther wrote: God's Word forever shall abide, no thanks to foes who fear it--for God Himself fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit.

So rejoice this day. Oh you fellow crusades for truth, remember: The Truth will always be true, the Word will always live, and in the end everyone will see. Joy! It's forever! Receive now. Don't be overcome with grief over the way the Word is sometimes misused. Just rejoice because He is God, the Lord, the Creator. "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."

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