“The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” Revelation 21:23 (NKJV)
Before I begin, so there’s no question stirring around in the back of your mind, this photo, as shown here, accurately captures the scene just as I saw it. Aside from cropping the picture, I’ve not done anything to enhance the image. In short, what you see here is what I saw.
A simple but profound and ageless truth dawned on me as I sat there on the beach, watching two people play in the surf with the sun shining directly behind them: Eyes focused in the Son’s direction cannot distinguish skin color because the light is so bright.
This truth quickly expanded beyond skin color to include any other feature worldly thinking uses all too frequently in its vain attempts to categorize people.
The underlying, foundational truth is that when our hearts and minds are rightly on Jesus, His brightness is so glorious that the diversions of this world that result in harmful division and cruelty amongst ourselves no longer matters and is revealed for the utter darkness it is.
“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” John 12:46 (NKJV)
“God’s Kingdom isn’t divided into areas of important people and areas of little people. In God’s sight, everyone’s needful.”A. W. Tozer
“For there is no partiality with God.” Romans 2:10 (NKJV)
What, then, remains for us to say about these two people seen in the photo? What is most vital for us to understand and apply now that the Son’s light has removed everything the world counts as worth fighting about and beating our chests over? Yet another fundamental truth emerges in answering this question: at the end of the day, relationships are everything; they are what truly matter.
Our Lord is relational at His very core, so it should come as no surprise that this illumination has led us to straight to the subject of relationships. Jesus has a few words to share with us regarding how we’re supposed to behave towards others, of course.
“And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31 (NKJV)
Can you imagine a world in which people genuinely cared for and respected one another? In a world spilling over with anger, hate, prejudice, jealousy, envy, pride, and selfishness, how can such a world ever hope to be filled with compassion and love? Such a radical change in direction begins one person at a time through that individual’s right relationship with God.
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.” Mark 12:30 (NKJV)
How can we love God so wholeheartedly? There is but One way to begin this journey of a lifetime.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6 (NKJV)
When we embrace (note this is doing and not just saying!) Him as Lord of our lives, “Yielding to Jesus will break every form of slavery in any human being,” proclaims Oswald Chambers.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
Indeed, as our heavy chains fall to our feet, we are at long last able to look beyond ourselves towards others with eyes of compassion and concern, for He has given us His own servant’s heart.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45 (NKJV)
When we have true fellowship with Him, the misshapen glass walls of hate we have constructed come tumbling down in His glorious light. Have you yielded to Him? If so, serve your neighbors. Has He broken your chains? Serve your neighbors. Do you love Him? Serve your neighbors.
Who exactly is your neighbor?
“But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:29-37 (NKJV)
“Only a life lived for others is worthwhile.” Albert Einstein
As this comes to a close, allow me to share another A. W. Tozer quote with you.“God’s looking for people thru whom He can do the impossible. What a pity that we plan only things we can do by ourselves.”
We all want to see the world changed for the better. Left to ourselves and our strength, not only is it an impossible task, but a most likely misguided one as well since we invariably look at others as being the problem.
“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NKJV)
“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42 (NKJV)
Let’s begin this sought after change first with ourselves by diligently pursuing a deeper, more intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. As our love for Him grows, so does our love for others. Who knows what miracle He will accomplish with a yielded son or daughter whose focus is on the light of His glory and grace?
Jadon Lavik, “Turn Your Eyes” from the album, “Roots Run Deep.”
Postscript: Here it is, the day after uploading this post. I’d be robbing you of a blessing if I didn’t offer these additional thoughts to you, my friends.
Although I’ve been aware of this song for years, it did not play a part in my original inspiration to write this post, as one might be so inclined to think. I stumbled upon this song after “auditioning” many others as my writing drew to a close. Yes, it’s the icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned.
It’s uplifting to note that this post’s central theme is an uncanny match for the message proclaimed in this beloved hymn’s chorus written by Helen Howarth Lemmel in 1922, almost 100 years ago.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”
The song may be old and my inspiration to write on this subject newly born, but the Lord’s message remains wonderfully unchanged. It is spectacularly new every morning, generation after generation! Let us praise Him!
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)