Growing up in the Tampa Bay area in Florida, lightning was a common occurrence. In fact, Tampa Bay is known as the lightning capital of the nation. In June, 1993, more than 21,000 cloud-to-ground lightning flashes occurred within a 50-mile radius of Tampa Bay. In June 1994, the number of flashes rose to an incredible 50,000. And you know what? Every one of them happened in a flash!
I actually like to experience thunder storms, particularly at night. For lightning has an unparalleled capacity to engage the night and expose things normally shrouded in darkness. This exposure is quite amazing.
Spiritual light is also quite amazing in its’ own right, revealing both truth and exposing darkness. And in the spiritual, whenever light exposes darkness, there is a reaction and a response.
The scene is Acts 3 – Peter and John are at the temple, when a lame man asks them for alms just before the enter the temple (Acts 3:1-3):
“And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” (Acts 2:4-10)
How is it a man lame his entire life is healed…in a flash? It was by the same power that controls the clouds and makes the lightning – the power of God (Job 37:11,15; Matthew 8:23-27).
Peter explains: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:12, 16).
Peter goes on to proclaim the gospel (Acts 3:17-26) to this captivated audience. In one sense you would think this miraculous work would result in unanimous approval. A lame man healed – this is awesome, right? Well, not so fast! You see, this miracle was done in Jesus’ name, and the name above all names creates a reaction and response unlike any other name.
For the spiritual light of the gospel brings revelation and conviction, resulting in salvation for some. Yet, for others, this revelation and conviction results in rejection and even vehement opposition to the light:
“Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening. However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.” (Acts 4:1-4)
It was not the miracle that offended the religious leadership. Rather, it was the message behind the miracle, and more specifically, the name behind the message! Because Jesus is at the core of the gospel message. For Jesus is the rock of salvation that leads to liberation and life for those who believe. But for those who oppose and reject Jesus, He is a rock of offense that leads to condemnation and judgement.
This is the clash of light and darkness.
Following Jesus is to walk in the light: “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Rejecting Jesus is to continue in darkness: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:19-21).
As you live for the Lord and seek to shine the light of Christ, understand the clash. Expect the clash, and forge on in the midst of the clash. Remember, while many will run from the light, some will walk into the light and be saved! Hallelujah.
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:8-11).