For the last 2 weeks, we've been in the last 3 chapters of Daniel and something has not left my mind and heart... As we studied the last vision in chapter 11, I looked at a map to see exactly where Jerusalem was located in relation to the kings of the North and the South. I was shocked to find out how it sits right in between them, some call it a land bridge.
And it dawned on me that God had given this land to His people hundreds of years before the battle between the "North" & the "South" would occur... God strategically placed His people, the smallest and weakest among nations, right in the midst of conflict... What better way to make His Name known to the nations? To shine His glory into a dark world?
But He's done the same thing with His church...we are still strategically located between the North and the South (if you get my drift)...we are strangers in a foreign land...strategically placed in a world full of conflict and our mission is the same as the Israelite's thousands of years ago... to make His Name known to the nations...to shine His glory to the world.
But just like the Israelites, we are falling so far short... John Stott wrote the following in "Christian's Salt and Light" for Preaching Today...
"You know what your own country is like. I'm a visitor, and I wouldn't presume to speak about America. But I know what Great Britain is like. I know something about the growing dishonesty, corruption, immorality, violence, pornography, the diminishing respect for human life, and the increase in abortion.
Whose fault is it? Let me put it like this: if the house is dark at night, there is no sense in blaming the house. That's what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is, "Where is the light?"
If meat goes bad, there is no sense in blaming the meat. That is what happens when the bacteria are allowed to breed unchecked. The question to ask is, "Where is the salt?"
If society becomes corrupt like a dark night or stinking fish, there's no sense in blaming society. That's what happens when fallen human society is left to itself and human evil is unrestrained and unchecked. The question to ask is "Where is the church?"Many of us are living through very difficult times...times of tremendous conflict...the circumstances may all be different...but the theme of conflict is the same. We have a divine opportunity...a privilege to shine God's glory into the world...to make His name known by the way we live through our sorrow and suffering.
I am not in any way saying that we shouldn't grieve...be angry for a time...or struggle...but I am saying that there comes a point when we need to let Jesus, the lifter of our heads, raise us up so that we can shine His glory into the world.
A friend of mine is living through what I would consider "the perfect storm," some of the most unimaginable circumstances, that all managed to collide at just the right time... But she amazes me. Yes she grieves... She's frustrated... I'm sure she's afraid sometime... But the joy and the peace in her soul is radiant in her face.
She commented to me that she realizes that there is absolutely nothing in her control, that all she can do is get up each day and put her trust in God. She is living in the midst of terrible conflict yet she is making His name known...she is shining His glory into the world. She is a beautiful picture of the abundant life that is available to us in Christ...joy in the midst of sorrow...beauty in the midst of the ashes...hope in the midst of despair... Jesus in the midst of conflict.
That's why we're here, you know...to make Him known so that others who don't know Him will come to know Him. We have a mission...this life is just not about this life...it's about eternity. Someday we will be able to revel in our eternal reward, but for now, there are others who don't know Him, whose eternity hangs in the balance.
We have a choice, every single day, about how we will live in the midst of conflict... Will we wallow in our own misery? Or will we be salt and light? Shining the glory of God into the world?