Wake up!

The Covington News - - Religion -

Have you ever watched kids play that swim­ming pool game “Marco Polo” where one has to close their eyes and try to catch the oth­ers just by their sense of hear­ing? On our youth trip last week, I was re­minded how frus­trat­ing that game can be, es­pe­cially when the per­son who is “it” doesn’t peek. I can only imag­ine the frus­tra­tion of truly be­ing blind. The few min­utes in the game is plenty frus­tra­tion and reach­ing out into the dark­ness for me.

But just try to imag­ine that. Paul tells us in our text that that’s what we were: “You were once dark­ness, but now you are light in the Lord.” You see, we’ve been given our sight. If you’ve been blind and were given the gift of sight again, I’m sure you’d never want to be blind again. So Paul shouldn’t have to say what he does next. He tells us to live as chil­dren of light and have noth­ing to do with the fruit­less deeds of dark­ness, not even talk­ing about them.

That’s a no-brainer, right? Well, if it is, how do you ex­plain why the news me­dia thinks you’re in­ter­ested in Brit­tney’s latest trip to re­hab or who is the fa­ther of some su­per­star’s baby? If it re­ally is a no-brainer, why do the pa­parazzi get paid so much money for their pic­tures and stars de­mand so much cash for their “re­veal­ing” in­ter­views? Why? Be­cause you pay for them; be­cause by our TV and movie and con­ver­sa­tion choices, we beg to hear and see more about the sin other sin­ners are com­mit­ting. We love the juicy de­tails. We want to see more, hear more, con­stantly push the en­ve­lope. You know, if we Chris­tians were do­ing what Paul tells us here — the pa­parazzi would be out of a job. But the dark­ness is so in­trigu­ing. And the sad thing is, it gets our eyes used to the dark.

On the last day of our youth trip, most of the kids stayed up all night un­til our 4:30 am wake-up time. Then when we got in the vans, it was pretty quiet, un­til we had to flip on the lights to find our map. You would’ve thought we had thrown acid on the kids the way they re­acted to that light — but I can un­der­stand it. Their eyes had be­come ac­cus­tomed to the dark, so the light was painful.

That truth is just as true spir­i­tu­ally. Our so­ci­ety has be­come com­fort­able with sin, be­cause we’ve seen it so much. What would our great-grand­par­ents say if they saw what was on reg­u­lar TV th­ese days?

So what’s the so­lu­tion? What’s the cure to the dis­ease of let­ting your spir­i­tual eyes get used to the dark­ness? Well, same thing as for our phys­i­cal eyes — light. Paul says, “This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” Get your eyes used to the light in­stead. Some­times that takes an ini­tial shock, but as your eyes ad­just to what you are see­ing, you’ll never want to look at dark­ness again.

You see, look­ing to the light, you’ll see Christ. You’ll see the one who de­stroyed the dark­ness of sin, death, and hell with his suf­fer­ing and death on the cross. He shone the bright light of vic­tory in his res­ur­rec­tion from the dead and his as­cen­sion into heaven. And he changes our lives when we re­al­ize just how bright that light is.

He has made us chil­dren of light. Why would we ever want to give up that beau­ti­ful po­si­tion? Why would we ever choose blind­ness over sight, the dark­ness over light? We wouldn’t. We won’t — as long as we keep our eyes ad­justed to the light by con­stantly and con­sis­tently look­ing to the light of Christ shin­ing brightly in his Word, be­ing shared by your brothers and sis­ters in Christ. And by the way, those brothers and sis­ters in Christ are look­ing for­ward to join­ing their lights with yours so that to­gether we can shine Christ’s love that much brighter right here in New­ton County. Pas­tor Jonathan E. Scharf

Abid­ing Grace Lutheran Church

“The Good Shep­herd”

In th­ese weeks lead­ing up to Good Fri­day and Easter, it will do us all well to take a fresh look at who Je­sus re­ally is.

Through­out Scrip­ture, God calls him­self “I am.” Je­sus uses the ex­pres­sion “I am” seven times in the gospel of John to give us in­sight as to who he is.

He said: “I am the vine, you are the branches.” He also said: “I am the light of the world” and “I am the bread of life”.

Je­sus also said: “I am the gate” and “I am the Good Shep­herd.” Most of us have prob­lems re­lat­ing to sheep and shep­herds since they are not a part of our cul­ture or rel­e­vant to our daily lives in 2008. But they were a ma­jor part of the life and times of Je­sus, so he of­ten spoke of them.

In fact, the night of Christ’s birth there were shep­herds in the fields, keep­ing watch over their flocks by night.

In John chap­ter 10, Je­sus gives us sev­eral im­por­tant truths re­lat­ing to sheep:

Peo­ple are like sheep. He refers to peo­ple as sheep, as do many writ­ers in Scrip­ture.

He does so be­cause of the sim­i­lar­i­ties that ex­ist be­tween sheep and peo­ple. They are weak, help­less and de­fense­less crea­tures. They have no sense of di­rec­tion and are prone to wan­der and are eas­ily lost. Once lost, they can­not find their way back to the sheep fold. The prophet Isa­iah said: “we all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.”

Je­sus is the Good Shep­herd. He com­pares and con­trasts false shep­herds and all those who came be­fore him as be­ing thieves, rob­bers, strangers and hirelings. Th­ese were re­li­gious lead­ers who scat­tered the flock and ex­ploited the peo­ple for their own self­ish pur­poses. In con­trast, Je­sus is the Good Shep­herd, who has the best in­ter­est of the sheep at heart.

He is also the gate or door into the sheep fold. There is no other way into safety and pro­tec­tion ex­cept com­ing through Je­sus Christ alone. Oth­ers try to get in some other way.

As the Good Shep­herd, he also leads and pro­vides for his sheep, lead­ing them in paths of plenty and pas­ture. He also knows his sheep per­son­ally and by name, and they know and rec­og­nize his voice and will not fol­low a stranger’s voice.

Je­sus lays down his life for his sheep. Quite un­like the false shep­herds and hirelings,

Je­sus has the deep­est af­fec­tion for his sheep, to the ex­tent that he is will­ing to give his life for them.

Je­sus is the owner of the flock. In John chap­ter 10, Je­sus of­ten refers to the sheep and flock by the use of per­sonal pro­nouns such as me, my, and mine. We be­long to him.

There is only one flock and fold. In a day of many world reli­gions and many de­nom­i­na­tions within Chris­tian­ity, Je­sus makes it abun­dantly clear that there is only one true flock, and it is his, and there is only one path to safety, and that is through him. He is the great Shep­herd of the sheep.

Is he your Shep­herd? Are you fol­low­ing him? Or are you a lost sheep need­ing to come back into the fold? Let Je­sus be the Shep­herd of your life. Come to him; trust him; and al­low him to lead you in the right paths. The Rev. Wayne Ruther­ford LifePointe Church

of the Nazarene

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