I saw the first Christmas lights this year at the beginning of October. Even before the pandemic, people have been decking their halls before Thanksgiving, but recent events seem to have pushed more people aboard the very early Polar Express.
I don’t think this is just a sign of our love for Christmas or the holiday season. This year especially, I think it’s proof that the world is hungry for hope.
As winter settles in and the nights grow long, our bodies and minds are recovering from the trauma of the last two years. This is one of those points in history when we can feel darkness even more than we can see it. We can walk through a brightly lit mall and still feel controlled by our desire for all the things. We can sit in school surrounded by friends and still feel lonely. We can know and love Jesus and still long for something more—the something more that he’s made us for.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 promises us this hope:
“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.”
You are a Child of the Day.
Whoa. Let that soak in for a second because that’s a powerful identity.
What does a Child of the Day look like?
First: You don’t belong to the night anymore.
Jesus overcame this sin-darkened world so that you would be free of the darkness—no longer a slave to fear, death, and the power of the enemy! That doesn’t mean you won’t be tempted by the darkness (even Jesus was tempted) but when you do feel it, you can remember that Jesus has the victory over it and he’s made you the victor, too. Jesus gives you the power to choose the light.
Second: Light shines in you.
You have a truth beacon inside of you called the Holy Spirit. You don’t have to satisfy your heart with that stuff from the mall because you can remember that your ultimate joy is in Jesus. Even though you will sometimes feel the loneliness of night, you can reach out to people with the love he gives you (because they might be feeling lonely, too) and remember that Jesus is always present with you, a constant friend. And best of all, when you long for heaven, you can remember Jesus’ promise to return and make all things right again.
Third: You are awake.
As you go to classes and work and do your normal stuff, it’s easy to get lulled into a comfortable routine and forget that eternity is always at stake. But it is. Heaven is real. Hell is real. Being awake means acting urgently. It means loving people enough to share the truth with them now, not later. The world is desperate for hope. If you get discouraged when people reject the truth, remember that where there is hope, there is longing for something more. Hope expresses the faith of not giving up on what might be true.
As Christmas comes and goes this year, you’ll have many opportunities to choose to focus on the dark world you live in, or the light of Jesus that never fades away.
So remember: you don’t belong to the night anymore. Let’s wake up and be Children of the Day!
Jesus, you are the light of the world! Shine in the darkest corners. Blind the doubt and desperation with hope and healing. Help me wake up to the eternal and to live like a child of the day. And when I close my eyes each night, help me sleep in peace knowing you’re coming back to make all things bright and beautiful. Amen.