In John 17, we read a prayer from Jesus during his final days on Earth. When praying for believers carrying on the Great Commission, He said, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Referencing this passage, the Rev. A.R. Bernard spoke to thousands of Liberty University students in Monday’s convocation, encouraging them to be the bright light in a world of darkness.
Struggling with a sinful nature, Christians are caught in an intense battle, constantly fighting temptations while trying to be an example to others. Bernard pointed out the importance of not letting these inner struggles and desires hinder our relationship with Christ.
“If what we struggle with we accept as our identity, even when it’s in violation with the Word of God that we hold as the authority over our lives, then we are in danger of making some serious mistakes,” he said. “Our struggles as Christians simply push us toward the grace of God, push us toward the power of God’s spirit in our lives, in order for us to live out God’s moral values.”
Using the illustration of speed limits, Bernard noted that people drive above the legal limit because it is normal. Unfortunately, this same principal is also applied to other areas of life as various deviant acts are now accepted as the social norm.
“Eventually what we say is the norm is going to become law … and all of a sudden our moral system is going to unravel,” he said.
In Romans 7, Paul describes sin as a powerful force, saying, “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me … waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.”
“Humanity is trying to fight a force, but it’s not a human force, it is something spiritual,” Bernard said. “The only thing in human society that addresses the spirituality of sin and sin as a force is the power of God through Jesus Christ.”
Before exiting the stage, Bernard challenged students to take their relationship with God seriously and be an example to those who accept sinful behavior as an appropriate way of living.
“He chose you and I to represent Him … and He didn’t leave us on our own to do it — He invested His Holy Spirit within you,” he said. “As a Christian, you play a very important role in fulfilling Jesus’ prayer.”
A. R. Bernard is president of the Council of Churches of the City of New York, representing 1.5 million Protestants, Anglicans and Orthodox Christians. He is also the Founding Pastor and CEO of the Christian Cultural Center (CCC), a 29,000-member church that sits on an 11-acre campus in Brooklyn, N.Y.