Looking to Jesus – We gaze on the Light when shrouded in Darkness – Greg Albrecht

Greg Albrecht – PTM President

Yet again we have been shocked at the perverse darkness of evil evidenced through the tragedies of shootings and terrorism.  Just when we think the valley of the shadow of death could not get any darker it does. We will mourn with those in grief and we dare not stifle their angry cry of lament. Yet again, the Psalmist’s cry echoes across the millennia “How long, O Lord!?”

Yet again political parties co-opt our grief and loss as a platform to gain supporters for their cause as they point out real or imagined inadequacies of those on the “the other side of the aisle.” Just when we thought politics could not stoop any lower, it does.  

Yet again in the aftermath of pain and hatred, we’re tempted to imagine this round of anger and blame will ensure such tragedies never happen again. Just when we thought good sense and humanity would surely prevail, the same old tired message assures us that scapegoating, vengeance and retribution will make life secure and safe and peaceful.  

Life as a Christ-follower is never what we humans hope or expect. We naively assume because we are on the Jesus Way then life will be a series of quid pro quo results in our favor. Our life, we think, will be “blessed”– which is to say that life will go exactly as we think it should. We see the darkness of a truly screwed-up world, but still many think following Jesus will result in immunity from darkness and evil.  

The Jesus Way is forsaking all our yesterdays and todays and casting our worries about tomorrow before Jesus. The Jesus Way is paradoxically losing our life that we might gain life in Christ. The Jesus Way means following Jesus in the world in which we live—not in the world we want.   

Our world, it seems, can only offer intensified hatred, revenge and anger in the wake of tragedy. Our world is not focused on forgiveness and healing, rather it is focused on the only solutions it knows about—solutions via finger-pointing, blame, vengeance and retribution.   

Life on the Jesus Way in such a world is a resolute focus on his birth, his teachings, his cross and the resurrection.   

His birth assures us that Jesus is not absent or detached or distanced from our suffering. Jesus is in El Paso and he is in Dayton—he is in hospitals where people battle cancer—he is on battlefields and trauma centers. He is in seniors’ homes with those who endure indignity and loss, day after day. He is here now.

His teachings instruct us to love one another.  It is relatively easy to love a neighbor whom we like, but Jesus’ instruction about loving our neighbor offers no options or caveats that excuse us from love when neighbors bring pain into our lives. When we love only those who love us then our love is not God’s love. Self-interest in the guise of love is still self-interest, no matter how we might dress it up.  

His cross is the ultimate demonstration of God’s love. Jesus absorbed all hatred and all vengeance and all tragedies on his cross. The cross of Christ is our ironclad guarantee that evil will not have the final word. 

His resurrection is the assurance of our hope—our hope for a better world is not silly or empty or some Pollyanna pipedream. Life on the Jesus Way, in the midst of horrific evil all around us, is filled with the reality of a better world that is already here, in Christ, and the fullness of that better world to come in the fullness of time.  

There really will be a time when all tears are wiped away—there will be no heartache or catastrophic disasters—no more death or mourning or crying or pain. The darkness and evil of our world—the old order of things—will pass away. Weapons of warfare will become agricultural implements. Anger, hatred and self-perpetuating, eye for an eye violence will be once and for all redeemed and transformed into love, joy and peace.   

As we follow Jesus we set our hearts on things above.  We know that Jesus, now and forever, is truly the only solution for the corruption, lust, violence and evil that surrounds us every day of our life. Look up! Fix your gaze on Jesus.     

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