How Now Shall We Live? In the Light!
Updated: May 17, 2020
I'll never forget my experience in Costco yesterday.
Living in the country like I do, not going out into the world very often, I didn't know that things had progressed to the point of mandatory masks for healthy people. For weeks I've been one of the few in a grocery store that isn't wearing one, because I believe that breathing your own carbon dioxide for hours on end is bad. I've watched people touch their mask to adjust it many, many times...and wondered to myself how sanitary their hands were after all of that, then I had to touch the same keypad to press in my PIN number at the self-pay counter they'd just left...and I've definitely used hand sanitizer afterward.
It's a really strange time we live in, because we've never been so aware of (and afraid of) unseen germs as we are now, yet we're being so awkward about it. It's like we're all middle schoolers who just woke up to social cues and now we're self-conscious as heck.
No one said a word to me in Costco as I shopped, paid or presented my receipt at the end of the line. I smiled at everyone I saw, as usual, and their eyes smiled back. Then as I left, the big sign at the entrance caught the corner of my eye: NO ONE WITHOUT A MASK WILL BE PERMITTED TO ENTER OR REMAIN IN THE STORE. Wow! I just was! I was permitted to remain in the story--er, the store. No one had stopped me or said a single word to let me know I was disobeying so obviously. I don't think I'm socially obtuse; I would have noticed looks from people if they'd have given them to me or given me a hint of judgment. But when I saw that sign, it all dawned on me:
I might as well have been walking around without my pants on in Costco...and no one told me.
What a strange world has developed in the past three months, where an entirely new item of clothing is now required in order to be presentable in public!
As I was walking to my car with my cartload, processing some feelings of embarrassment and confusion and wonder, an elderly woman came up and said something sharp to me that I couldn't understand because her words were muffled by her mask. I think she was scolding me. Shaming me. Because I was in such forward momentum, I didn't slow down but I did the first thing that came to mind as I passed: I blessed her. That was my spirit acting, because my soul and body were pretty befuddled in the fog of it all. It took me the entire time I unloaded the cart contents into my car to process and decide how I felt about what had just happened.
I felt angry. In only three months, I'm considered a criminal for not wearing a mask. It's become Upside-Down World.
Help, Please! Some instructions?
This morning I came to the Lord and asked Him, "How should I act in all of this strangeness?" Immediately I felt like reading Peter's first letter. (PS: When you experience this kind of urge on the back of a question, that's your teacher, Holy Spirit, answering from within your spirit. Follow His leading!) My attention stopped at 1 Peter 2:9.
I had my answer right there in black and white: I was born for such a time as this strangeness. I've been chosen for it, trained how to connect people with God, and set apart as one of His own as an ambassador of hope.
My main job right now is to focus on God and proclaim praise.
You become like what you look at. Instead of being mad that the world has changed, I need to adapt and overcome. I have to find and wear a mask now, but whenever I put it on I need to use the occasion to shift my focus to God, align with Him and praise what He is doing right!
In this awfully strange time where unreasonable demands are being placed upon us and our reasonable freedoms are being systematically removed in the interest of public "health" and "safety," WE MUST remember that this world is not our home. He called us out of the mucky darkness into His marvelous light...so that's where we need to adjust our focus.
The Hebrew word for darkness also means "ignorance."
The Hebrew word for light also means "knowledge."
That is a valuable realization to apply like a mask over everything right now. It helps me understand why so many people are blindly complying with (and posting memes in support of) unreasonable measures without question. The enemy is using media as propaganda to sow false information that keeps people in darkness (ignorance) of any corruption and thus lets bad actors keep acting badly. People may be quite intelligent in many areas, but if they're consuming the propaganda of mainstream media without doing their own research, then they are currently living in and aligning with ignorance. The Bible says in this age, the whole world is being held under the power of darkness. It truly is Upside-Down World, and at the end of the age it will only get darker.
The only way to be extracted from the mucky darkness is to live in and align with and focus on the light.We need to live in the light now more than ever. Light is knowledge! Only from the light can one offer wisdom, insight and leadership into righteous things like truth, justice and peace.
Light has so many benefits:
Light frees people from ignorance because they can finally see what's happening and know it.
Light exposes things happening in darkness for what they really are.
Light allows the nature of things to play themselves out so everyone can see for sure what they're made of.
Light wakes people up so they can think and act strategically and purposefully, no longer in a dream-state where they have to passively respond to whatever comes.
People who live in the light shine brightly like stars in the night sky because they're rare. They lead many to righteousness because, like stars, they occupy the space and orbit that their Creator fixed for them, so their trajectory is trustworthy. Others can follow them and navigate to safety because the groove they follow is true.
Jesus called Himself the Light of the World because He knew better than anyone else what was really going on. I believe Him, and I eagerly receive Him as my savior out of all this darkness. Have you? If so, you can incontrovertibly say that you now stand in the knowledge of the truth. Aligned with Him, you're able to see clearly...and yes, you might see some things going on that make you mad; this world is messed up and it's designed to mess things up more and more!
Living in light of the Way, Truth and Life of Jesus isn't comfortable here in the world, not only because being in the light reveals shenanigans happening in the darkness, but also because we are called to do some really hard things.
According to 1 Peter 2, your knowledge, your presence in the light, doesn't mean you get to fight the system because you know better. Often times, you'll have to see wrongs occurring and have to let them play out without interfering. Why? Because that's what light does. It allows things to be seen for what they are. Sometimes that process takes time...and patient endurance...even suffering.
No matter how strongly we feel about things happening in this realm of darkness, based on what we clearly see and absolutely know to be wrong...as people whose citizenship is actually in heaven now, our job is to think and act like citizens of a higher dimension even while we're in this one. As a Christ-Jesus-following Christian, according to Peter, we're in this world, but not of it; we're aliens and a strangers.
Here's how to act like a heavenly person in a messed-up world. Peter gives some specific instructions to Jesus' followers in first century A.D.
1 -- Abstain from carnal passions which wage war against the soul.
So what exactly are carnal passions? How do they wage war against the soul?
Might they include constant indignation and boiling outrage against immorality, corruption and tyranny?
I'm seeing tons of posts and comments on Facebook about conspiracies and exposes about what's really behind stuff. I get it; I stay quite well-informed about these issues and many more. It is tempting to hit "share" on every video I see that riles me up for justice. I just want everyone to wake up and stop this mess from happening!!! But then Peter says:
2 -- Keep your behavior excellent among others in the world.
Not everyone believes the same way you do (understatement of the decade). The earliest Christians held firm faith in Jesus's teachings as they lived among many other faiths, much like we do here in our post-modern/neo-pagan society. Peter goes on to say why their actions needed to stay "excellent" in that crowd: "...so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may only find fault in your good deeds done publicly, so to glorify God in the day of His coming."
He doesn't say if they slander you as evildoers, he says when. In Upside-Down World, good and evil are flipped. The legal definition of slander is "the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation." A few subjects like "hate speech" and "racism" come to mind, able to tank the careers of people in a flash when Twitter takes to the story.
Sweet friend, we need to be super careful about what we say and how we say it, because if if can be taken out of context and aired for public outcry, it will be. General Michael Flynn was nothing but a decorated patriot of the United States all of his adult life, yet he was accused of and imprisoned for lying to FBI officials; only recently were all charges dropped. All evidence shows that he never lied. That was the treatment he got from a crooked world system for wanting to do good: He was slandered.
We need to stay in and speak from an attitude of love. These verses from 2000 years ago are applicable more and more as the days left in this age unfold...so it is becoming ever more important to keep our behavior excellent even under great duress and do only good deeds publicly. The ultimate reason isn't so that we will escape unscathed, either. It's not about us really at all. Our job is to glorify God. As I said in a couple of posts back, our role is to worship Him, as worship brings in His presence and always precedes His work. We are to be living announcements of His identity, His victory, His purposes wherever we go.
2000-year-old instruction from Peter-who-walked-with-Jesus: We've got to try our best to live so that when people tell on His children, all they can tell is what He thinks is great anyway. (Translation: Keep your head on. Push back but be respectful! Always pray for leaders and people making decisions, even if you really don't like them and deeply disagree with them. Handle harsh treatment with grace. It matters.)
3 -- Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors...
Man, this one is controversial and rubs me the wrong way too. What about standing up for our constitutional rights? What about protesting idiotic leadership and asinine rules? What about keeping your small business closed for what seems like no good reason, watching the booming economy go splat, having your kids not get a proper education for months and fall behind, forcing yourself to stay distant from loved ones as you all grieve a death...because funeral gatherings are illegal now? How about women being arrested for letting their kids play in a park, a kayaker on the ocean being picked up by the Coast Guard for non-compliance with the stay-at-home order, a man being dragged out of a bus by ten cops for not wearing a mask? What kind of twisted institution sets rules like these and imposes consequences like this...and why on God's green earth should we EVER submit to them? They'll say it's for public health and safety--for our own good--but are their insane measures proportionate to actual data? No, the true data that charts the nature and effects of the Covid-19 virus does not merit such controlling measures, any more than any other flu virus or plague that's ever been released into the air. This world-wide shut-down is a stand-alone phenomenon in all of history. There's definitely some other ulterior motives behind current governmental choices. Again: why on God's green earth should we EVER submit to them?
4 -- Act as FREE humans, and do not use your freedom as a covering for having ill-nature or evil thoughts, but use your freedom to be bondslaves of God.
Being the Light, Jesus knew the will of God and because of that, He agreed to submit to some really hard things. How did He do it? He knew He was free to submit Himself to what God allowed in His life. He knew that His Father always had more to give that would far exceed what He had to give up. He believed so much in the abundance of His Father that He knew there was more life on the other side of death, so He willingly gave His life up to bad actors. In so doing, everyone in their right mind can now look back through history and see an innocent man hanging on a Roman cross for the good of humankind--and the utter ignorance of the ones who killed him there. They are silenced. Looking at God's love poured out through the life of His Son, we see His nature on display and light frees the mind to see God's brilliant plan: to completely destroy evil with the more-powerful force of His goodness.
Jesus' sacrifice set us free from this world system. In Him, it has no claim on us anymore. One with Him, we are free to operate with confidence regarding anything that would try to bind and torment us here. We don't have to fear the unknown. Everybody's going to have to think really carefully about what they're going to allow into their life and what they're going to do...but nobody in God's family ought to make any decisions based on fear! We are ambassadors of hope in His all-surpassing power to save! We can stand tall and strong in the face of intimidating leadership and stay calm as we rationally discuss matters, free from the fog of emotional investment. We are now FREE to act out of our right minds--our awake, enLIGHTened minds that see and know the truth--instead of fear.
This is a major advantage. In the light, we don't have to ruminate on how bad Bad People are and what we would do if they come to our door and command us to take a vaccination against our will. In the light, we can choose instead to ask Jesus to give us an imagination of what He would have us to do in that scenario instead. This is what it means to use your freedom to be a bondslave to God. Ask Him what He would have you do, as you belong to Him.
Once we surrender to Jesus and accept His life exchange, we are technically here on His mission...not our own.
This is the will of God: to overcome evil with good. We are to do as He does, trust Him when He is silent, proclaim His praises no matter what.
God knows what's going on, and He's letting it all play out for a good reason. Light lets things be what they are. Jesus let the Romans do what was in their nature to do, and the Jews, too.
So must we. The early Christians followed their Lord into serious suffering: dipped in hot wax and lit on fire, many of them became "Roman candles." Others of them were sent into the Colosseum to encounter wild beasts before a full stadium audience. Throughout this current age over the past 2020 years, people who identified with Jesus had to follow Him into suffering as this world system accused them of the "evil" of defying their system and then violently took them down.
And somehow, just like Jesus' sacrifice released salvation to all, well, His followers also released something supernatural when they submitted to those who were unreasonable. They changed the world as their love for God's truth and justice and righteousness spilled out like golden light all over the tapestry of history. As they died, the pure glory of God hidden within them fanned out into the eyes and hearts of other souls who watched, and who knows how many onlookers turned to believe Jesus then too. The Church grew like wildfire in those days.
Humans are compassionate creatures. Sometimes it takes great shaking to awaken and make a massive shift, something only compassion can switch on.
Lights don't ever just come on by themselves. A catalyst has to change the situation. Something has to trip a trigger so a spark can alight, so an electric current can flow. Maybe this is what Peter meant when he told the early followers of Jesus' Way to do what is right and suffer for it and patiently endure mistreatment while they praise the One who set them free...because being a catalyst like this flips Upside-Down World back right side up when the light comes on. This is God's favorite scenario!
Faith pleases God. Faith keeps your eyes on Him in the middle of adverse and even awful circumstances...faith holds your tongue and keep your behavior excellent when you'd rather tell someone off...faith wears the mask at Costco because it is a small sacrifice of the will in context of the larger plan.
He wasn't asking them to just lay down and take what the world gave because it was the easiest path, like a bunch of pacifists and cowards. He was inviting them to override their carnal, earthly desire for independence, to use their independence instead to offer up their lives and rights to Him as a living sacrifice for His greater purposes. They wouldn't be laying down more than He could return in full...with infinite interest.
The same goes for us. We're gonna have to ride out whatever massive power play is afoot right now. Upside-Down World is about to get wackier and wackier. The only question is: how shall we live in the midst of it? I believe He gave His word to me this morning to share today because He wants us to know His answer. He's asking us to do our jobs: to proclaim praise to Him, calling attention to His goodness in every situation...and He's asking us to actively trust Him with the outcome. To submit to what becomes the rule of law...whatever that might be, as long as it doesn't violate His law of love.
We get to live in the LIGHT. Our reasonable service during this strange time (and all the stranger times to come) needs to be focused on the One who called us into eternal light. This world is not our home. How to act like we're from somewhere else: let's love His character and believe so much in His word that there is MORE than this life that we're willing to lay down this life to see it.