Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 143; 147:12-20, Nehemiah 9:1-15 (16-25), Revelation 21:22-22:5, Matthew 18:1-9
Revelation is a complicated book. Some people read it quite literally, others symbolically, and still others as a mixture of both. Whatever your take, the following passage paints a beautiful picture of eternal life.
I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day — and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
In this world, shadows and darkness hide a great deal of evil. The shadows may be literal like those providing cover for thieves in the night or muggers in a dark alley, or they may be more figurative like secret meetings in boardrooms and halls of power. They can even be psychological and cultural, like the lies we tell and the cover we provide to ignore and excuse exploitation of all kinds of people.
In God’s presence, none of these shadows exist.
In this world we will never know the absolute light of eternity, but we have a choice between reflecting the light or the darkness. We are complicated mix of both, and we can’t always tell the difference in ourselves or others. One of the most important criteria in making that distinction is truth – even when it contradicts what we’d rather say or believe. If we feel it’s our job to pad God’s resume by overstating claims about our faith and church or by ignoring and denying inconvenient information, we aren’t letting the light shine through us. Covering something up – be it scandal, doubt, failure, or mistake – only casts a deserved shadow on our reputation. Being truthful about who we are doesn’t diminish God; it demonstrates how much we need God.
Anyone who’s left a movie theater mid-afternoon knows stepping from the darkness into the light can be a painful transition. Yet we eventually must leave behind the pleasant fictions and enter reality. The highest reality, illuminated by love and truth and mercy and righteousness, strips away all shadows. Let’s do our best to step through its always-open gates with nothing to hide.
For thoughts on today’s reading from Matthew, see Faith Like a Child, Speechless, or Hands, Eyes, and Butterflies.
Comfort: Truth is the light which drives out darkness.
Challenge: Inventory the words and behaviors you keep secret, and ask yourself whether they should be revealed or discarded.
Prayer: Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. (Psalm 116:7)
Discussion: Twelve-step programs have a saying: “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” What do you think that means?
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