What Can We Do?
What can Christians do to be shining lights during this time?
Christians know that they are luminaries in darkness who point the way to the Lord (Matt 5:12-14; Phil 2:12-14; 1 Pet 2:12). The following assumes that we know we ought to act right and be the lights God called us to be. How can we do this? Though not comprehensive, here are a few suggestions for these difficult days. They are reaffirmations of what we always ought to be doing.
1. Keep your focus on Christ (cf. Heb 12:1-4). With all the distractions, it is easy to lose focus. When we lose focus, we shift our priorities. When we shift our priorities, we lose who we are and who we are supposed to be. Choose the good part, which will not be taken away (cf. Luke 10:42). The rest of these points are based upon keeping our focus on Christ.
2. Pray often. Prayer is both a first and last defense. It is what puts a wrap around the armor of God (Eph 6:10-18). Yet prayer itself not the shield, but prayer is communication with the One who is the Shield: “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill” (Psa 3:3-4). Pray for one another, especially. It is the one thing we all can do for one another, for leaders, for those who would be your enemies, and for the lost.
3. Love more. Paul speaks of increasing and abounding in love for one another and for all (1 Thess 3:12). People are in desperate need of reassurance right now. They need to know that others care, that others love, and that others are helping keep watch for them. By love, people will know we are disciples (John 13:34-35). Reach out, then, to those whom you may know or see are in need of some extra attention right now. Help build one another up.
4. Show no partiality. James is clear about this: “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (Jas 2:1); “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (Jas 2:9).
This, I believe, is particularly important right now. James speaks of not neglecting the poor in preference to the rich. The implications are tremendous and go beyond economic status to embrace all who are made in God’s image—all humanity (cf. Jas 3:9). There is so much racial unrest, and Christians, of all people, ought to be leading the way in showing love and being united with one another. Christians have an opportunity to show a divided world how Christ unites; we are to be committed to one another, no matter the ethnicity, race, or cultural background. Segregation is to be put aside and shunned so that brethren from all nations can stand arm in arm on the solid Rock of Christ. We can stand for justice and righteousness without resorting to ungodly measures and running roughshod over others. This is about showing what the gospel actually does in the lives of those made and remade in Christ’s image. If the divisions over Jews and Gentiles were to be healed in Christ, we must take our cue from this and seek unity, for “God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35). The leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations (Rev 22:2), and Christians must hold this grace out to all people. Even more, we need to be living demonstrations of it.
5. Be dedicated to sound doctrine. None of this should ever involve giving up the sound doctrine we find in Scripture. We must not give up truth to win political points (this goes for all). 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are about sound doctrine (cf. 1 Tim 1:10; 6:3; Titus 1:9). “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). People ought to see that we stand for what is particular to Scripture. None of these points involve turning away from the truth to strange and erroneous doctrines; they are at the heart of what the gospel teaches us to be and do. We cannot embrace sound doctrine, for example, if we show partiality, or do not love or pray or focus on Christ.
Opportunities to be luminaries in darkness often come when the difficult times strike everyone. People are hurting. People need a sense of hope. They need what Christ gives and Christians are in a position to offer that. Let us not waste our opportunities, for we are meant to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9).