I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ Acts 26:17-18
One day, one of my beloved seminary professors requested that our class memorize this verse. Jerry impacted lives. Lots of them. Globally. I was fortunate to know a bit about him outside of school. His family served as missionaries to Mexico for decades. His son was my husband’s college roommate.
Jerry’s life encompassed this verse. He walked people toward light. He often shared his stories as a missionary and a parent that spoke to the incarnational way in which he pointed people to light. For him, this verse was not about keeping a score card of “converts” but rooted in relationship. Ones depicted by simply bearing the Imago Dei.
Circles and trends in Christian spheres have focused on a “hit and run” type of evangelism. In fact, the word itself has been stained with all kinds of nuances which miss the thread of scripture. While Paul preached to large gatherings, he also liberated others from darkness by confronting those who were oppressing others (Acts 16:16-24) and mentored others (including Timothy and Lydia as mentioned in Acts 16:14).
The reference of moving from darkness to light originates in a Jewish liturgy. The Jews’ retelling of their collective story kept them focused on the character of God. When hope seems distant and earthly solutions fail to resolve the voids of the heart, they remembered that God is one who brings joy from sorrow. Light from darkness. Paul’s words here remind us of the ultimate fulfillment of God’s transformation: the death and resurrection of Jesus. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10).
May we live lives of liberation.
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