Twenty-year-old Eric Percy, after drinking, got into a loud argument with his girlfriend about 3 am that carried over the neighborhood in the early morning quiet. Finally, with curses that woke everyone, he jumped into his car, turned on the engine, and screeched around the corner. His car accelerated down the residential street like a race car until he reached the next intersection.
A squeal of brakes, a sickening crash so loud it sounded like an explosion… Minutes later, police found his car sheared in two, his body parts scattered about a neighbor’s yard. The car’s speedometer was stopped at 70 mph (113 kmh).
Eric Percy’s sudden and needless end reminds us of the unnecessary dangers we face when we ignore reality and truth.
Ultimate reality and truth lie in Jesus Christ, the “true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” When we ignore Him, we put ourselves in peril just as Eric Percy put himself in peril when he allowed his emotions to ignore reality.
This is why we must always seek the light of Christ. We must allow the light to challenge our dearly held ideas and opinions. We must let the light of Christ challenge the norms and ideals of our culture, and even of our church. We must not become confident in our own ways, otherwise we may miss the “big picture” as God sees it–and pay dearly in unexpected and unintended ways.
It is so easy to trust only in ourselves, even as believers. When we do, we endanger ourselves and the lives of others, especially the ones we love most.
Why would we not follow the light of Christ? It is like a great feast of endless delight for all who accept His invitation to partake of it. With His light, we know we are headed in the right direction. All of us experience uncertainty and darkness. In Him there is no darkness at all.
Those who gladly receive the Light that is Jesus Christ will experience transformed lives. We receive a changed nature and become part of His new humanity. We receive a more childlike nature, more inclined to trust the word and the person of Jesus Christ in opposition to the prevailing culture. We more readily delight in the truth of God.
Our eyes will open to things we never saw before, and which others, who do not have the Light, cannot see. We will more readily speak the truth. We will more readily see the true mind and character of God and desire that above all else. We will more readily live a life of fruitfulness, joy and peace.
This does not mean we will attain sinless perfection in this earthly life, but we will have greater ability to understand ourselves and our world from God’s perspective. We will put less trust in human wisdom and more in God’s. We will better understand that human wisdom will always disappoint us in some way because human understanding always falls short of God’s perfect Light.
Every follower of Christ has the Holy Spirit who provides the potential to experience all the light of Christ. Because of sinful habits developed since birth, we still run the risk of allowing emotions, social or business pressures, cultural norms and other things to sway us-things that seem logical and even good to us at the time, but do not take into account the full truth God makes available to us.
David was a man after God’s own heart, and yet for a time, he allowed Bathsheba’s beauty to capture him more than the light of God. He suffered dire consequences for his acts, and brought untold suffering upon himself and others that continued even after he repented.
In many ways, Judas and Peter perceived the Light better than any of us because they lived in Jesus’ physical presence, yet because of their tendency to interpret Jesus according to their own light, they betrayed and cursed the Light for short-sighted reasons.
In spite of their terrible failures, David and Peter repented from their short-sightedness, and God not only forgave them but enlarged their influence. Their repentance reveals another aspect of God’s perfect Light-His ability to stay His hand of justice and transform even their grossest failures to His glory and for the blessing of future generations of men, women and children.
On the other hand, Judas failed, not only because he betrayed Jesus but also because he failed to understand how God could transform his betrayal, and make it make it actually serve God’s eternal purposes. Judas continued to live in his own light, as if he were a god. As his own god, Judas judged himself for his failure and condemned himself to death. What a needlessly high price he made himself pay for ignoring the redemptive Light that he had witnessed again and again in Jesus’ ministry!
Jesus invites and warns us at the same time when He says, “While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” We have the Light now, but if we ignore the Light, we will not always have Him. If we continually look to our own light, darkness will overtake us, and he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.
The Light of God is found in the Word of God through the Spirit of God. Learning to follow the light is impossible for people like us with sinful tendencies to wander–unless we depend solely upon the Holy Spirit to help us as He speaks to us through His Word. May that be our constant aim!
Let us remember that in the end, it is not we who possess the Light, but the Light Who possesses us. This is the ultimate message of the Good News, and let us make sure that others see signs of the Light in us so they will yearn to follow Him.
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Father God, thank you for sending your Son Jesus Christ into the world to give light and save me from the darkness of sin in myself. I thank you for saving me. Enable me to love your light above all else, and to become your light in a world that continues to wander in darkness. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.