“Take up and Read”
“Let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” – Romans 13:12
In the gospel reading for Sunday, Feb. 9, Jesus tells his followers that they are the “light of the world,” and that they are to “let their light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” In these dark winter days, it is good to remember that Jesus has commissioned us to be light bearers in the spiritual darkness of our world, and our world is, indeed, in need of such light bearers! Sometimes, however, I feel like “this little light of mine” is too little to break the hold that darkness seems to have on our world, our country, our families, and even our church. Sometimes, I feel the darkness in my own soul threatening to snuff out my light. But then I remember that it’s not really “my light” at all; rather, it is the light of Christ in me that shines light on my path, the light given to me, and to all who believe, as a gift at baptism that God promised to us. And we have been given the “armor of light” to keep that light strong and effective. So what is this “armor of light” and how do we put it on?
There is a story told about St. Augustine that speaks to this question.
“In the summer of 386 A.D., Aurelius Augustinus, better known as St. Augustine, sat weeping in his friend’s garden. He was contemplating his life. Although he enjoyed the desires of the world, something was missing. Then he heard a child singing, ‘Take up and read! Take up and read!’ Noticing a scroll near his friend’s side, he picked it up and read Romans 13:13-14. Later he said, ‘No further would I read, nor had I any need; instantly at the end of this sentence, a clear light flooded my heart and all the darkness of doubt vanished away.’ God would use Augustine as one of the world’s most well-known theologians.”
Although the scripture verse above was originally meant for the Romans, it applies to us as well. In the paragraph just before the verses above, Paul emphasizes the importance of loving one another because “the day when the Lord returns is drawing near. He urges a change in behavior – not later, but now: ‘do this, understanding the present time’ (v. 11). He continues this emphasis on being prepared for the Lord’s arrival here. In addition to loving one another, Paul urges believers to put aside the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light (v.12). The armor described here is the same spiritual armor described in Ephesians 6:10-18.”
During Pastor’s recent sermon, I thought about the verse in John’s gospel, “...in him (the Word) was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (vs. 4-5). It reminded me that, small and feeble as my own light is, it is really the light of Christ shining in the face of those who believe that can shine so brightly as to dispel the darkness, and allow God to be seen, heard, felt, praised and glorified – even by those who do not yet know Him. But, like Augustine, we need to “take up and read” and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to us through His Word, convicting us in areas where we need to stop gratifying our own human desires and instead to “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” (v.14), allowing God to change our heart, our mind, and our life. So perhaps, like me, you need to ask: Where are you in your relationship with Christ? Take up God’s Word and read! May we all be “people of the Book” who value God’s Word and study it daily. And may we all walk in the light, not allowing the darkness to deter us, holding fast to the promise that His light will not be overcome.
Susie Pike, elder
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