God’s agents of light and love

Published 7:56 pm Friday, December 26, 2014

This week is a time of both reflection and looking forward.

As we reflect on 2014, one can only say this past year has exposed the fact that we live in a very broken world.

One event has been the rise of ISIS. Who could imagine at the beginning of the year that vast swaths of the Middle East would be under the control of a terrorist group this brutal? Or that we would have to take in the horrifying news of multiple people being beheaded on video? Or that the entire population of Christians in these parts of the world would be exterminated or forced from their homes?

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Then there is Pakistan, where on Dec. 16, Taliban terrorists entered a school and murdered 132 students, mostly between the ages of 12 and 16.

And let’s not forget the Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria, which in April kidnapped nearly 300 girls from a school. The group, which does not believe girls should be educated, announced its intent to use the girls as sex slaves in forced marriages. Then, on Dec. 18, Boko Haram struck again, murdering dozens of villagers and kidnapping 200 more.

This month has also brought to the fore another ominous threat of a very different sort, this time from North Korea. Who would have imagined at the beginning of the year that the debut of an American movie would have to be canceled due to a cyberattack from the government of North Korea, or that this evil regime would threaten to kill American moviegoers? That sounds like a movie itself, but it is all too real.

And then there was the disease called Ebola — but it is here that we find a cure for our sin-sick world. When reports of Ebola first started coming out a few months ago, many Americans dismissed the disease simply as an African problem.

That soon changed when an American medical missionary contracted the disease. Although he was brought back to America for treatment under the safest conditions imaginable, some were fearful. Some commentators even suggested that Americans have no business trying to help people in disease-ridden parts of the world.

“Stay here and try to help your own country,” they said.

I wonder what those commentators would say if they lived in one of those countries and they were sick and needed help.

Christian missionaries were in Africa, because the One they serve came on a mission from heaven to earth to rescue us when we were sick and dying.

As we just remembered at Christmas, Jesus left the glory of heaven to be born as a baby. He then lived the perfect life we cannot live, took our ultimate sickness (our sins) upon himself on the cross, and rose from the dead so that all who turn to him in repentance and faith can have eternal life.

One day he is coming again, to put an end to evil and to bring complete healing to this broken world. Until that day, he calls us to be his ambassadors of grace, mercy and love.

Here is a good New Year’s resolution for all of us: Let’s be God’s agents of light and love to others in 2015.

Thurman Hayes is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.