At some point we have all wondered, “What’s wrong with this world!” And maybe even added a colorful adjective. Matthew says it well when he describes the world as “sitting in darkness… in the land and shadow of death” (Matthew 4:16).
But (and it’s a big, big but) “upon them a Light has dawned.”
Darkness and death seem to sum it up pretty well. But why? Proverbs 16:25 explains it this way: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” The way that seems right isn’t to forgive. It doesn’t seem right not to worry. I’m not inclined to serve you. The doors marked “Sacrifice,” Humble Yourself,” and “Obedience” just don’t feel like what we want.
We don’t mean to choose darkness, but we do. The phrase “sitting in darkness” describes our situation well because the darkness is normal, all we’ve ever known.
Jesus Himself is the Light. When He shows up there is Light, and you can see why things aren’t working well. When He says “Follow Me”, He is offering to lead us into seeing people and life in an entirely new way.
Light doesn’t come naturally. The Darkness promises us freedom, but it takes us into death. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus introduces us to the way out of the darkness.
Think of the eight Beatitudes as His illuminating lights along the way: (1) Realizing our need for God, (2) Coming to Him when we hurt, (3) Becoming easy to lead, (4) Becoming passionate about being like Him, (5) Wanting to help people more than judge them, (6) Enjoying the freedom of pure motives, (7) Helping people reconcile their relationships, (8) Being able to forgive and love when it costs dearly.
We can’t control what others do… although we can care, we can reach, we can pray. What we can control is simply ourselves. When we actually follow Jesus and practice the Eight Truths, we are contributing light in dark places.
It’s very tempting for us to watch the news and complain about how bad things are. Our calling is to follow Him who is the Light… and maybe be the light for someone else.
So, before we begin this series, briefly, on a scale of 1-5, where do you score yourself today, on the following?
Realizing my need for God.
Coming to God when I hurt.
- Becoming easy to lead.
- Becoming passionate about being like Him.
- Wanting to help people more than judge them.
- Enjoying the freedom of pure motives.
- Helping people reconcile their relationships.
- Being able to forgive and love when it costs dearly.
For the sake of comparison, you might like to hold on to this list as you work through the next steps in the Eight-fold Path.
This series is excerpted from Jerry Daley’s book about the 8-Fold Path, entitled Following Jesus Into the Blessing.