Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. (Philippians 2:14-16 NIV)
We are living in some dark times. There is protesting in many of our cities over the death of a black man, George Floyd, who was killed by a white police officer. In addition, rioting and looting has accompanied some of these protests, including right here in Sacramento. Fears and anxieties about the coronavirus continue to make people feel nervous for themselves or loved ones. The economy has taken a major hit, and we won’t see the full effects of that for months or even years. These are dark times indeed!
So we need light. We need hope. We need people who love other people regardless of their skin color, language, or ethnic background. We need people who are full of courage in times of illness and disease and who give hope to people facing death. We need people who find security not in their job or bank account but in Christ, and who know how to share that security with others.
Can you and I be people like that? Yes, as Jesus Christ lives in us and through us, the answer is “Yes!”
The apostle Paul wrote to his Philippian friends and said that they “shine like stars in the universe.” They were shining brightly in their darkness, as they lived “in a crooked and depraved generation.” What made them shine? Paul wrote, “You shine like stars in the universe, as you hold out the word of life.” As they shared the Gospel, this greatest of news that there is real hope given to humanity by Jesus Christ, they shone brightly. They were people who knew how to walk in the straight and narrow way in the midst of a crooked and depraved generation. They were people who held out the freedom of forgiveness to slaves and prisoners. They were people who gave hope to the hopeless, comfort to the dying, and mercy for the guilty.
These are the kind of people we need today, people who recognize that every person is made in the image of God and that Jesus died for every human being, and therefore all people are to be treated with respect and dignity. We need people who have courage and hope, who shine like stars in the universe.
You and I can be people like that as we hold out the word of life – the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus. There is no political solution that will end racism. Even governor Gavin Newsom of California said as much: “You’ve got to change hearts, minds,” Newsom said. “You’ve got to change culture, not just laws.”
Laws don’t change the sinful human heart, but the Gospel does. You and I can hold out the word of life that shines so brightly in a culture that is dark with sin. We can love others, live with courage, and give hope to those who need. After all, we are broken sinners ourselves who still struggle with the darkness of our own sins. But we are forgiven! Who can you love in your neighborhood or at a local store who might feel “different?” Who is afraid and needs encouragement? Who is stressed by financial anxiety and needs a prayer and a listening ear? Find a way to share the good news today!