We hear the words, “on mission” and we immediately jump to caring for orphans, feeding the hungry, visiting the prisons, or sitting at sickbeds, and we’d be right. But what about those of us who are not in full-time Christian service? We spend most of our days pushing paper, teaching students, serving food, fixing cars, and pleasing customers in environments that are more often than not, hostile to faith. Can we be “on mission” there too? I believe we can, but it may look different than you think.
I was speaking with a friend last night and we were musing over this very question. We were asking ourselves, “What does it look like to be a person of faith in a sea of the faithless?” After we hung up, as I continued to ponder, I realized that the answer was in the question. What do we look like to those who see us every day?
Think on this:
We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. Colossians 1:11-14
Let’s start with the last part; “he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” Enough said. You’ve been transferred into a whole different kingdom. What did you do to earn that privilege? You must have performed very well for God to have been so pleased with you to decide you were worthy of such a transfer! Nope. You didn’t do anything did you? In fact, you performed very poorly and you are still scratching your head in disbelief and often doubt that the transfer has actually taken place. But the fact remains, it has, and it is only because of his “dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” That is the gospel. So before anything else, remember that, because too often, when we start asking ourselves, “What does that look like?” we are actually asking ourselves, “What am I supposed to do?” and we need to be careful there. Before we do anything, we must learn to rest in the finished work of Christ. Until we have trained our minds to stop thinking “performance” and instead think “grace” we will be in no position to be light in the darkness.
Now for the first part; “We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.” If the answer to “What does it look like to be light in the darkness” is in the question, then I think it looks like you simply live as the of person of patience, joy and gratitude, described in this verse. Who wouldn’t be inspired by that?
We want a more practical answer though don’t we? We still want to know what we are supposed to do. Well, if we have been faithfully drenching ourselves in the glorious truth of the gospel message, I am of the opinion that the “doing” part is a natural outcropping of a gospel-soaked life. And I think it will look like this;
Preach the gospel to yourself daily and be humbled and astounded by the beauty of Christ as your everything…and when you do, you will probably feel inspired to:
Worship. Proclaim God’s supreme place in your life and in this world.
Remind yourself of the gospel, and eventually you will feel compelled to:
Pray. Pray for everyone within your sphere of influence, allowing specific names to be brought to your attention by the Holy Spirit.
Soak yourself in the gospel, and soon you will find yourself voraciously addicted to, and inexplicably drawn to;
Read. Read God’s Word. Don’t add this it to a to-do list to be checked off, just rest in God’s grace and allow this desire to grow and take root.
Remember, the obligations of God’s law are always grounded in declarations of God’s gospel. Be saturated in the gospel first. Don’t try to evoke the desire to practice these spiritual disciplines until you have first begun to understand the beauty of the gospel of grace. The discipline will follow.
In my experience, these things follow a spiral pattern. Each time around the gospel-centric worship, pray, read spiral, we move a little deeper, our spiritual understanding grows a little wider, we are more and more transformed into the likeness of Christ. We become a brighter and more vibrant light in the darkness.
Take your light into your world of darkness and do your job well. Work as unto the Lord. Earn the respect of your colleagues, employees and superiors with your skill. Rely on the endless supply of wisdom that comes from living the life of one who has been transferred into the kingdom of light. Rest in the knowledge of Colossians 1:11-14. Not every situation has an easy solution, and as long as we live in these shadowlands, we will face seemingly impossible choices, and we will be faced with opposition. We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
I personally like to approach each day as though I am part of a covert ops team who is working together to push back the forces of darkness in our appointed assignments throughout our cities, state, nation and world. As a member of the kingdom of light special forces, we posses the power to pray silently over our coworkers even in the midst of a staff meeting. We have the secret weapon of kindness, and respect that we can wield when it is most unexpected. We can be humble and easily admit our faults and transparently share our shortcomings. We can be authentic. We can show joy, peace, patience, and gratitude. We can go the extra mile, be the servant of all. We can be at ease knowing that because Christ has done all, we have simply to be. That will make us look very different than those living in the kingdom of darkness, and that alone may just be the key to showing Jesus to the world.
Am I saying that it is never appropriate to speak the words of your faith aloud to others? No. With the wisdom the Spirit gives, you will know when it is appropriate, but I think we do ourselves a disservice when we think we must always be looking for opportunity to share the gospel with our words; as though that is the only viable way to shine our light, as if God is keeping track, as if we need to check this off our good Christian “to-do” list. At best, I believe this thinking leads to misplaced guilt and frustration for those of us who spend our days in a gospel-hostile environment, and at worst, it paves the road toward believing it is up to our good performance to be counted worthy of relationship with God. I can’t see how either reflects well on the Christ whose name we claim. The opportunity to have a genuine moment to openly share the beauty of Christ with another is a gift to be cherished. Let’s be prepared should that moment open before us by immersing ourselves daily in the gospel.
I think that perhaps being light in darkness means just that…BEING, and being comes from embracing the good news all day, everyday, until it transforms us from glory to glory.
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18.