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The Lighthouse
Matthew 5:13-16 


"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. [14] You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. [15] Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. [16] Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

Last Fall, after we unpacked our boxes from our move to Monterey, Susan & discussed how we ought to be storing some supplies just in case the Y2K prophets of doom were right. We'd meant to stash a can of tuna or two away each week throughout the year, but never got around to it. With just a few months until the dreaded collapse of civilization, we knew we should be doing something, but to be honest with you, we never made adequate preparation. As you know, it turned out, we got away with our procrastination. The Y2K crisis was little more than Y2Yawn.

Today, with nine months of the 21st Century under our belt, I have to tell you I'm more concerned about a coming crisis than I was this time last year. No, I'm not going to suggest you start saving bottled water and spam, it isn't that kind of crisis. But it is a real potential problem nonetheless. 

Those warning us of a possible Y2K computer glitch last year, had us so focused on the possibility of an acute crisis that our attention was diverted from a chronic problem that's been developing for years. Perhaps the moral erosion was so slow that we've not noticed the shift, but lately I've seen caution flags everywhere. Frankly, I'm concerned about the direction society is drifting toward in the Third Millennium.

Unanchored, we are drifting with the common current, without clear direction into uncharted waters. Because we've discarded the notion of absolute truth, we're navigating these waters without a compass or the North Star to guide us. What lies ahead is not an adventure floating down a lazy river, like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn enjoyed, there are rough waters ahead-we're at peril.

What words would you use to describe the era we're in? Leonard Sweet, the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University, in Madison, NJ. calls this age, "post-modern." Personally, I don't like the term. It tells what this age comes after, but it doesn't describe the age. Erwin McManus, the Lead Pastor of Mosaic in Los Angeles calls the age "hyper-modern." "This [age] is not a disconnect with the modern world," McManus said, "it the acceleration of modern assumptions taken to an extreme." Personally, I like James Parker's term. Parker, the Professor of Culture and World View at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, KY, called this era a "post-human" age.

At the end of the modern era, mankind was wrestling with who God is, and even questioned His existence. The debate has moved from the divine to the human. Now people are asking, "What is human life?" In the process, there has been a subtle de-humanizing of mankind. 

Are people just another species of animals, or is there something special about the human race? The Christian world view has an answer rooted in Genesis 1:27 that says, "And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (NASB) We affirm that we did not evolve from animals. Christians know that God created us. He created us in His own image. We are special because we are image bearers of God.

That is our world view, but it is a minority view.

In 1985, Simon and Schuster published Phil Donahue's book entitled, The Human Animal. I'm happy to report to you that it is out of print today, but the message of its title is still in vogue. Humans are just another animal.

But even if a person doesn't wrestle with the sacredness of human life, advancements in science have led everyone to ponder the question, "What is human, anyway?"

What about cyborgs? Are cyborgs human? Cyborgs are partially human and partially machines. They are partially born and partially made. Since I am a cyborg, a human with an implant in my larynx that allows me to speak using one paralyzed vocal cord and one healthy cord, I'd have to answer yes. Should scientists invade the body with technology to help us speak? I'm glad my doctor did. Should they implant pacemakers to help regulate our hearts? Why not? What about an artificial heart? Sure. What about an artificial, programable brain? Why is that a line we're not willing to cross?

What about cloning? When I say the words, "Hello Dolly," do you think of a musical or do you think of the first cloned animal-a sheep named "Dolly?" Currently, researchers are toying with the idea of using this technology to bring back extinct species. An October 8, 2000 AP article reports that a cow in Sioux City, Iowa is pregnant with a rare Asian gaur fetus. Scientists took the egg of the cow, stripped it of its DNA and fused the egg with a skin cell from a gaur. In effect, they've created an embryo that the cow's uterus will accept that is genetically a gaur.

Technically, "Noah, " the name of the fetus, has no father, it was artificially induced to begin dividing and growing. Should scientists use cloning to preserve a species? What about to bring a species back to life? What about humans? Should there be human cloning? Why is that a line we're not willing to cross? (Fresh Illustrations )

What about fetuses? Are unborn babies human? When I think about the Girl Scouts I think about thin mint cookies. I've always thought the organization was one that held traditional values and taught them to girls. Perhaps that has been your experience with them. But this week I read a startling report that the Senior Girl Scout Handbook, (for ages 14-17) talks about how girls can end a pregnancy and advocates euthanasia under some circcumstances.- . Has abortion become so accepted in our day that the Girl Scouts feel it is their responsibility to inform girls about it? 

A few years ago I wrote an anti-abortion devotional and sent it out over my email list, FreshStart devotionals. Promptly, one irate reader responded by asking me to take her email address off of the list. The reason she gave was that I shouldn't mix religion and politics. My question is, when did abortion become a political issue and cease being a religious one? 

Now there are those who want to use undeveloped embryos for medical research. Recently, Michael J. Fox, testified before Congress about the promise stem cell research has for Parkinson's, the disease he suffers from. Stem cells have the potential of becoming any kind of human cell. Researches believe that using these cells could help them find a cure for diseases like Parkinson's and diabetes. According to ABC News, "Fox urged people not to have a 'knee-jerk' response to the stem cell debate and said the research had the potential to 'literally change the world.'"

I like Michael J. Fox. I always have. I was sad when I heard he has Parkinson's and when I heard his plea for stem cell research, I wanted to do whatever it takes to help him with his problem. But I'm still left asking, should embryos be used for research? What about aborted fetuses? Would this research create a demand for them on the open market resulting in planned abortions? (Fresh Illustrations )

So what is the Christian response to the threats of the third Millennium? Do we do battle with science? Do we organize political opposition? No, we did that in the modern age and all it did was alienate us from society. Then what do we do? Instead of cursing the darkness, why don't we do what Jesus told us to do and shine a light?

Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. [15] Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. [16] Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

Our society's problems have nothing to do with the blending of the created and the made or cloning or stem cell research. The problem is sin. They need Jesus!

I recently heard Dallas Willard, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California quote the "Great Commission," (Matthew 28:18-20) and say, "If you want to know what to do while we deal with the reality of the coming Millennium, this is it!" Since Jesus promised He would be with us to the end of the age, we can rest assured that He will be with the church in the new Millennium if we will let the gospel shine.

And if we will let the gospel light shine, our text promises that those who see our "good works will glorify our Father who is in heaven." Isn't that our goal?

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