For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The story of redemption is a graphic tale of the God stooping down in His mercy to rescue us from the power of darkness. Darkness is not only a force but a dominion, a power, an organized force of evil that seeks to enslave us. “Rescued” is a strong word and has the idea of someone in captivity or sinking in the ocean or overwhelmed by circumstances – perhaps of his own making – being removed from danger. The gains of the new life in Christ are not merely the removal from danger but entrance into the kingdom of light and of love, to be placed under the protective rule of the Son of God. This is redemption in its fullest sense, taking us from death and bringing us into a higher kind of life than we previously had or could ever imagine.
Three stories of being lost and becoming found were placed by the Spirit side by side in the fifteenth chapter of Luke. The parable of the lost sheep reveals the seeking shepherd heart of the Savior – who scours the hillsides of the world bringing the lost that have wandered off the path back to Himself. The parable of the lost coin reveals the amazing grace of God that seeks for lost people like someone would sweep the house to find a precious item that is lost. Yet in the third parable of the prodigal son no rescuer is sent out, the Father waits longingly at the home, and the prodigal must come to himself, must realize the helplessness and hopelessness of his circumstance and in personal desperation return to the father. There is a great difference between finding lost sheep and coins and finding lost sons – the son must return of his own volition. Though the Savior knows we need rescuing, we are often blind to our need ourselves and must flounder in our moral failure and spiritual blindness before we are willing to be rescued. We must see our need of Christ and turn to Him, see Him as the Rescuer and Savior of our souls.
You might know someone who needs rescuing and perhaps you have prayed often for this person, perhaps with tears, for them to wake up and return to God. God hears your prayers, but, as with the prodigal, a human being must be willing to be rescued by God. Some people, like the prodigal, will not come to realize their need until they are in the pigsty, struggling with all the problems that accompany being under the dominion of darkness. Perhaps writing them a little note of hope, encouraging them about God’s love for them, will be a tool to remind them of the bounty at the Father’s table.
One of the misconceptions we Christians often have in today’s world is that when people come to the church they are somehow doing us Christians a favor. That is the absolute reversal of reality: Christ rescues people from the darkness of life without Him. We are, of course, glad for people to come and join our fellowship, but the real focus must be on the need all people have of the life of Christ. We do the world a great service when we share the love of Christ, whether in message or in acts, for there the light of God is shining in the darkness.
Lord, let us be Your tools to shine Your love in the darkness around us. Thank You for rescuing us from the dark dominion and bringing us into the kingdom of light and love and of the Son. Amen.