LIGHTING THE CANDLE
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day…
This time of year ask any child how many days until Christmas, and he or she will most likely know and tell you. Faces light up at the question. Part of the joy of these days is the anticipation of the big day. It’s fun to look forward to Christmas!
Although the apostle Paul cannot tell us how many days until Christ comes back, he is excitedly looking forward to it. And he does know this about that wondrous day: it “is nearer to us now than when we became believers.” He knows that the long night of darkness is nearing the end, and the dawning of God’s new day is closer at hand. As Christians, we can look forward to life’s fulfilling moment in “the revealing of the children of God” and “the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:19, 23). Soon we will “enter into the joy of the Lord” (Matthew 25:21).
As preparation for God’s new day, Paul paints a picture of soldiers just before daybreak on the morn of battle. The night is almost over; it is time for the soldiers to awaken and strap on their armor for the last stand. Paul also paints you and me into the picture as soldiers fighting alongside: “Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” It is the “armor of light” with which we must battle the forces of darkness! Only light can overcome darkness.
It is clear from the context of this passage what putting on the armor of light means: it is to “live honorably as in the day.” There is no place for anger, hatred or deceit for God’s children of light. God calls us to live as people of the day, giving light to the darkness.
To live honorably as children of light means to live by the law of love Paul sets forth in this passage: “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” As the time grows short for us, Jesus calls us to love as He has loved. We are to be different from the world if we are to make a difference in the world. We must wake from the stupor of a secular culture’s indifference to eternal values.
I often think of Martin Luther saying that he had two days in his calendar: “This day and that Day.” What you and I do today does count forever!
PALMS DOWN/PALMS UP
Gracious God, it is easy to get caught up in today’s news, and to be distracted from the things that really matter. It is easy to go along to get along, and to fall in with the culture. Fill us with your purpose and help us to live in the light of that Day. Amen.