John A. Braun
The longest day of this year will be June 21—the day of the summer solstice. In the United States, we will have about 15 hours of light. The sad realization is that from June 21 onward each day will get shorter. The winter solstice is Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year, with 9 hours of daylight. Darkness creeps into the daylight, which loses its intensity as the sun drops in the sky and heads closer to the horizon.
This year Pentecost occurs on June 9, and we celebrate the rise of the gospel light and the birth of the Christian church. Jesus told his disciples that the Counselor would come and they should wait in Jerusalem (John 15:26,27; Acts 1:1-11). Of course, the Holy Spirit called people out of the darkness into the light of God’s grace long before Pentecost. But on that day, the Holy Spirit demonstrated his work with tongues of fire and the miracle of languages. When Peter proclaimed the gospel, the Holy Spirit called three thousand people out of the darkness and into the light.
The light of the gospel does not rise and set like the light of the sun each day. And since both the light of the gospel and the opposite darkness are spiritual, neither the light nor the darkness is evident to everyone.
Many who came to Jerusalem for the Jewish festival had no idea that they were in the dark. They did not know Jesus. Peter and the other apostles let their light shine to chase the darkness from the hearts of the three thousand. Pentecost is a reminder that we are to let our light shine so the Holy Spirit can enlighten darkened hearts and minds.
As believers in Christ, we will always live surrounded by darkness. Those still in the darkness do not recognize it as darkness, but we who live in the light become aware of the darkness when we see murder, child abuse, domestic abuse, theft, robberies, anger, and discord. Others see these things too but do not understand the source of them all. Jesus said they all flow out of the darkened sinful heart (Matthew 15:19)—a concept those in the dark resist.
The darkness within the human heart rebels against God and resists the truth that Jesus came to rescue humanity from itself—the sin within and the result of sin, death. Alternative ideas about God and spiritual issues arise in the darkness. Those ideas have no foundation except the optimistic imagination and opinions of humans. Those opinions refuse to accept the reality of sin. They flatter the human spirit by minimizing the sin within and suggesting that anyone can earn heaven if only they do enough good.
But the devastating darkness becomes profound when death comes and those who greet its icy stare have nothing but their human ideas and dreams. A final desperate alternative is to believe that in the end there is no heaven or hell. Those in the darkness have chosen to resist the light of Jesus’ victory over death and his promise: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25).
We are to share the light of Jesus into the darkness that surrounds us. The hearts bound by the darkness and imprisoned by its false hopes and dreams need the light we possess by faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). We share the gospel, knowing he has the power to awaken and enlighten others.
Author: John A. Braun
Volume 106, Number 6
Issue: June 2019