How many of you really enjoyed getting up an extra hour earlier today because of daylight saving time? I think it’s safe to say that many people don’t mind daylight saving time, in general, but I think it’s even more safe to say that many, many people don’t like the day they go to daylight saving time, because it kind of messes up their world for a day or two. One doctor I heard on a radio show this weekend basically gave the very astute diagnosis that on the day that daylight starts, many people are … grumpy.
I pray that you aren’t too grumpy today, but what would happen if in any grumpiness we would say, “Forget this daylight saving stuff, at least for a few days until I can try to get used to it. I am not changing my clock…” That could really mess up your world, right? What could happen? You walk into school and have every single person in the class stare at you. You get reprimanded for being late to work and a note gets put in your file. The store is already closed, and the deadline for returning merchandise that expired that day is done. The stock market sell-off that you made at what you thought was the end of the day wasn’t accepted until the next day, and on that next day the stock market falls 50 percent. In something like this, it doesn’t really matter how we feel about something messing up our world, because it would really mess up our world if we didn’t abide by what is the reality: Today is the day daylight saving time began.
What about The Daylight Saving Time That Makes All the Difference in the World? Today’s lesson tells us that God so loved the world, but it also tells us something else about the world in verse 19. Look at that verse in the middle of the second paragraph, if you would: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. Our time that that we live in this world truly is our Daylight Saving Time – the time to come to faith in God’s one and only Son. But many people don’t want Jesus to mess up their world. Many people want to live in the darkness of Daylight Damning Time, because they like what they are doing, and they don’t believe that God has a better way – a life-saving way — a daylight saving time way — that makes all the difference in the world that is the world without end – eternity.
And sometimes those things rock our world, too, don’t they? Sometimes following Jesus seems like we are living in the wilderness and being told by God to look at a snake on a pole so that we can be healed of our poison, because God asks us to believe things that to so many people seem so dark-ages. “You actually believe that you should use your money to serve God and help others rather than make sure you yourself are taken care of above all things? You actually believe that people should not live as husband and wife if they are not husband and wife? You actually believe that you have a right to say people of the same sex should not be sexually active with people of the same sex? You actually believe that it’s your business to tell someone they should not take the life of an unborn baby? You actually believe that there are two gender identities that God designed when he created the world for the good of the world? You actually believe that God created the world – in six days out of nothing? You actually believe there is a God?”
We need to be gentle and patient and loving when we interact with people who live in the darkness and make us want to feel like we are the ones living in darkness, but we also need to help each other when we ourselves are tempted to look at things that way – or when in our sinful weakness we do look at things that way – even though we do believe that, just as looking at a snake on a pole saved people at that time from the snake’s poison, so looking at the Son of Man lifted up on the cross saves all people from sin’s poison — though so many people, sadly, only want to look down at what is right in front of them on earth rather to look up at what is waiting for them in eternity.
But what has all the so-called living in the light of advanced thinking accomplished for us? Are there still run-aways? Are there still car-jackings? Are there still mass shootings? Are there still confused teens, messed up adults and scared geriatrics who fear what will happen when they close their eyes the last time? Are there still fears of nuclear bombs? Are there still massive refugee camps? Are there still concerns about horrible hunger and mass starvation? Is there any reason at all to think that there is less chaos in the world now than there has ever been before? The more people think can walk in the light without Jesus, the more their world is darkness, because without Jesus everything is always the same as it always has been and always will be until the end of time. People need the daylight saving time that makes all the difference in the world, so they can see how God makes thinks different through Jesus, no matter how much the sinful world stays the same.
And so do we.
It is not easy to live in the light when so many people think that our kind of living in the light is something where they feel sorry for us for being so out of touch and so downright dumb. Nor is it easy when that same voice that speaks so loudly in the lives of unbelievers speaks inside our own hearts in perhaps ways that are far less dramatic to the world, but are just the same in the kingdom. You and I, too, must confess that every single time we speak disrespectfully to a parent or a boss, every single time we speak unlovingly about our child’s teacher or a neighbor, every single time we try to make ourselves look better at the expense of others, every single time we don’t make listening to God and praying to God a priority, we are loving darkness. And the frustrating, but true, thing is that this desire for darkness is something that won’t stop tormenting us with temptation after temptation until we finally get to live in the light of heaven.
And that is why we thank God that we do know his Daylight Saving Time. Even though we know that God has every right to condemn everything in our personal world, what does verse 17 tell us: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” The God who should condemn everything about us instead sent his Son to go up on a pole so that by believing in what he did in pouring out his blood as the price to pay the debt our sin had accumulated before God, we never have to be afraid that we will be condemned by God or forgotten by God – in fact, just the opposite – we are totally loved by God, because Jesus took our place.
Some of you get the daily devotions on our WELS website, so this may be a repeat thought for you who read them, but the devotion on Saturday really made the point in a very powerful, almost heart-stopping way about Jesus taking our place with an illustration about a gas chamber in Wyoming where capital punishment once took place years ago. The story is told that before each execution the chamber was tested by having a live pig first enter it to see if it was working…You can imagine the person on death row hearing all this going on, probably not all that far away — knowing very well what it means to be condemned and without hope.
The Lamb of God went to that place of hopelessness. The Lamb of God was nailed to the cross so that you and I wouldn’t need to be. The Lamb was condemned so that you and I wouldn’t be. Jesus died so that we could live. And all that is because “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
So, instead of being taken in by the world that wants no part of God’s love for the world, feel sorry for them, and ask God to help you do whatever you can to help someone – whether he puts someone into your life personally or through the working with other Christians in our congregation and church body in our outreach efforts and mission fields. Instead of defending and making excuses for walking in the darkness of sin ourselves, admit it – confess it – and throw the guilt on Jesus. And instead of thinking that God’s forgiving love could never cover you, remember who God loves – God so loved the world – and if he loves the world, he loves you, because he is the one who brought into the world – and he is the one who wants you to live with him in the world that is to come. That is why, even on our grumpiest of days, we can always remember that God’s Daylight Saving Time is the greatest thing in all the world because it’s the most important thing in all the world. And it makes all the difference in the world as we use whatever time God gives us to make a true difference in this world by serving him and helping one another. That’s the kind of different people the world which God so loved needs. Amen.