Week 2

Living at the Speed of Light – Facing Tragedy

Session II

Intro

To live at the speed of light, to walk in the light, to be a child of the light leads us into a counter culture.  We are instructed to do some unusual things.  For example, Paul encourages us to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  To make music from our heart to the Lord, “giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Ephesians 5:19-20)

That may be easy for an apostle.  But what about someone who lives in real life?

 

Digging Deeper

 

Did the Apostle Paul lead a sheltered life?  Let’s look at the record:

Acts 14:5 -  Paul and Barnabas were threatened with physical harm.

Acts 14:19 – Paul was stoned and left for dead.

Acts 16:22-24 – Paul and Silas are beaten and imprisoned

Acts 21:30-32 – a mob attempted to kill Paul

2 Corinthians 11:23-27 – Paul lists the times he has suffered

 

Paul knows what it meant to live in times of challenge, difficulty, and disaster.  Yet, he still instructs us to give thanks for everything.  “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!”  (Phil 4:4)  “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot.  In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.  I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Phil 4:11-13)

The reason Paul could find contentment in all circumstances was that his happiness did not depend on his outward circumstances.  Some people are not happy unless outward circumstances conform to their wants and desires.  They work hard to manipulate and control things (and people) around them to attempt to create circumstances that make them happy.  They become helpless victims to the unpredictable surprises of life.  Life happens!

Paul’s happiness depended on something he could not control or manipulate, but could only dare to trust – God’s faithfulness.  So whether the circumstances were good or bad, God was still faithful.  Paul could continue to trust, to give thanks, to rejoice.  And because God was in the center of Paul’s attention, more often than not those tragic circumstances turned into unexpected blessings.  The night in a Philippian jail led to the conversion of the jailer.  The riot in Jerusalem gave opportunity for Paul to witness to people of significant power.  The storm and shipwreck transported Paul to Rome more quickly than if it had been a safe journey.

God not only works in spite of catastrophe, but sometimes because of and through catastrophe.

 

Questions to Ponder:

1.   Have I faced any difficulties in the past that have turned out to be blessings?

2.   Am I facing any difficulties now that are blocking my light – my relationship with God?

3.   How can I daily “tune” in my attention to the presence and power of God in my life?

 

 

Application

1.    Compose a timeline of your spiritual journey.  Mark on the timeline moments of significant testing and tragedy.  Then note seasons of significant growth and maturity.  Is there a connection?

 

Week 1

Intro

The pace of life is faster than it has ever been before.  The advances of technology and the increasing globalization of our world has put more information at our finger tips than ever before in human history.  So many of us are racing at neck-breaking speed to keep up with all the activities – and opportunities – around us.  It is what it is.  (Profound, isn’t it?)

 

 

 

Digging Deeper.

There are many references to light in the Bible.  Here are two that speak to creation.

 

Genesis 1:2-5 (NIV)

2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

 

John 1:1-9 (NIV)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

 

In these two passages light is used as a symbol for good and for life.  God created light.  God said it was good.  God separated it from darkness.  In the Gospel according to John, life was created through the Word, and that gift of life was the light for the human species.  John, the Baptist, became a witness to the light.

 

So, to live at the speed of light is to live in an environment of good and life.  I suspect most of us would regard that as a good thing.  Abraham Maslow identified in his work in the mid 20th century that all of us humans have needs.  He placed them in an hierarchy of motivation.  The first and lowest level is physiological.  It is about having food to eat, clothes to wear, and shelter.  The next level is safety and security.  No wonder we experience such violence when people believe their safety is compromised.  The third level is love and belonging.  The fourth level is esteem.  All of us want to love and be loved.  All of us want to feel as though we are important to someone somewhere.  The fifth level is self-actualization.  Are we growing into something more tomorrow than we were yesterday?

 

To fully live life that is good will likely include some, if not all, of these needs and motivations.  The Apostle Paul urges us in Ephesians 5:8 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”  To live as children of light is to live life to its fullest good.  It not only fulfills our needs, but provides a means by which we can help others fulfill their needs.

 

That is what the church is about.  Coming together to discover ways we can help each other, and others beyond us, find life in its fullest good.

 

Sometimes the choices we make casts a shadow over the source of our light.  We let catastrophes and fears and tragedies eclipse our light.  But God is bigger than our catastrophes, our fears, and our tragedies.  Putting God up front and center in our lives keeps us living in the light.

 

Over the next few weeks we’ll unpack a little more of Paul’s writing to the Ephesians about what it means in our relationships to live as children of light, to live at the speed of light.

 

Questions to ponder:

1.    If living in the light fulfills my needs by helping others fulfill their needs, then this approach to life may well be counter cultural.  That means it may go against the grain of what we observe in culture around us.  Can you think of some examples?

2.   If service to others fulfills my deepest needs, what is the meaning of sacrifice?

3.   Who do you think is the Word in John 1?

 

 

 

Application

1.    Turn my attention to the light of God’s faithfulness by reading a chapter of Ephesians each day this week.

 

 

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