Many voices in the church today say Christians must show a new kind of love. They are talking about a love in which biblical truth must bend with the times. According to their gospel, no personal changes are necessary when one accepts Christ. Indeed, no repentance is needed. Rather, the goal in presenting this gospel is simply to break down any barrier that could be considered a stumbling block to a person’s acceptance of Christ.
Is it possible that we as Christians have allowed the fullness of Christ’s light to become partly darkened? Jesus warned about the danger of allowing our light to become darkness. “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going” (John 12:35). According to Jesus, any desire for worldly acceptance causes our light to darken.
You can easily find acceptance in the world. People will call you friend, admire you, even love the kind of gospel you preach. How? It happens when you allow the ways of the world to seep into your soul. You can cast off the reproach of Christ, convincing yourself you can mix with darkness and still be a light to the world. But it does not work!
At the Last Supper, Christ told his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you” (John 13:34). This new commandment was not about methods of evangelism. He had already told him they were to go into all the world preaching the gospel and assured them they would need the Holy Spirit’s help to fulfill that command. So what was this new commandment? Jesus told them, “As I have loved you … also love one another” (13:34).
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (13:35). Our love for one another in the church must be demonstrated in our deeds; only love in action will get the attention of a lost generation. I encourage you to ask the Lord for a baptism of love so that you can minister to your Christian brothers and sisters and also bring others to him.
Jesus said he came to seek out and save the lost. This was the same One who had power to subdue the very winds and waves, yet he came as a humble servant. The gospels tell us he listened patiently to people’s heartbreaking cries. Multitudes pleaded with Christ to deliver them from their afflictions and he met their needs. He healed the sick, opened blind eyes, unstopped deaf ears, loosed tied tongues, and made cripples to walk. Jesus set captives free from every form of bondage — he even raised the dead.
No one ever loved humankind more than Jesus; he grieved over the multitudes before him, seeing them as lost sheep in need of a shepherd. The truth is, nobody in history should be more revered, respected and loved than Jesus Christ. He performed works of compassion for the people he met; he wept over the world’s spiritual blindness and poured out his life for all. But in spite of the good things Jesus did, the world hated him without cause.
What did Jesus do that he should be so despised, both in his own day and today? Simply put, the world hated him because he came as a light to deliver all from darkness. He declared: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). Jesus also told us, “Everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:20).
Jesus promised to deliver people from their chains of darkness and pledged to set men everywhere free from all satanic power. However, what we Christians see as a holy gift of deliverance and liberty is viewed by the world as a form of bondage. Such people love their sins and have no desire to be free from them.
The Light of the world is come and dwells within you. As you embrace this truth and walk in the Spirit, you will be able to shine forth his light to those around you.
When our fear becomes overwhelming, we must remind ourselves of how great our God is. We need to recall all his great deliverances for those who have trusted in him, and claim the same majestic power for our present trial. Fear cannot get a stranglehold on any servant who has a vision of God’s greatness and majesty.
Nehemiah understood this well. He paced back and forth as Jerusalem was surrounded by a fierce coalition of nations ready to attack. A weary remnant was working around the clock to restore Jerusalem’s walls against these adversaries. They had to toil with a hammer in one hand and a sword in the other. As the hours ticked away, fear began to set in.
How were they able to resist succumbing to fear? Nehemiah reminded them of how great and mighty their God is: “I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight” (Nehemiah 4:14).
That is exactly how Moses dealt with fear in Israel. He instructed the people, “If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’ — you shall not be afraid of them, but you shall remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt … You shall not be terrified of them; for the Lord your God, the great and awesome God, is among you” (Deuteronomy 7:17-18, 21).
Moses was saying, “You are going to face many great enemies who are more powerful than you. You will wonder how you can ever gain victory against such odds but you must remember the awesome might of your God. Remind yourselves how faithful he was to deliver you in the past.”
“He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things” (Deuteronomy 10:21). If your faith is shaken, remind yourself of how mighty your God is. Recount his many deliverances in your life and you will find any grip of fear being broken by a vision of his majesty.
When God’s presence is missing in one’s life, things are out of kilter because there is no law, direction or righteous teaching to serve as guidelines for living. Everyone becomes a law unto himself, doing his own thing. Sadly, this is a picture of so many Christian homes today. There is no peace or rest because everyone is doing whatever he or she pleases. Such disorder deeply grieves the Lord, yet it does not have to be that way. The presence of God brings order and his promises are unchangeable. God’s Word pledges, “If you will seek me, I will be with you. When you cry out, I will be found by you.”
We read of King Asa, who led God’s people to a miraculous victory over Ethiopia’s million-man army. Afterward he testified that it was God’s presence that had scattered the enemy: “Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude … So the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled” (2 Chronicles 14:11-12).
As Asa led his triumphant army back to Jerusalem, the prophet Azariah met him at the city gate with this message: “Hear me, Asa … The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (15:2).
This is not some complicated theology. In fact, anyone can have the abiding presence of God if he or she will simply call out in faith. God told King Asa the secret of getting and maintaining the presence of the Lord in his life and he wants to do the same for you. The Lord is merciful and his love is constant. With him, you can go through any fire — and you will not just survive, but you will be kept and protected through it all.
How many of us truly understand what it means to walk in the Spirit of God, to live with the passion of Jesus, to trust in God with a faith that is raw and genuine and powerful? A faith that knows no limits and fears nothing? A faith that can stare the devil in the eyes and say, “You can go no further! You have no more control over me! You are weak and exposed and impotent!” A faith that can move any mountain, no matter how high or wide or difficult. Yet that is the kind of faith that God demands of those who want to see his power. It is the only thing that can activate the true might and authority of the Holy Spirit in lives.
If you want to change the world, begin by letting God change you. By letting the passion of Jesus become your passion. By letting the Holy Spirit be your only guide and mentor every step, every minute of the day. By allowing God to set your heart on fire for him.
As believers, we have been given a gift greater than we could ever imagine or ask for. We have been entrusted with the most powerful blessing we could ever receive — the gift of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit! He lives within us, directing us, guiding us, empowering us for great and mighty things. And filling us with faith.
One of the greatest things about following Jesus is that you do not have to be rich or famous or a great speaker or evangelist to walk in faith and make an impact on the world. You just have to be willing to let God use you. You just have to be available when God needs a servant to teach or touch or help another person in his name. You just have to be there. And how encouraging it is to know that any one of us can do that.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.