Having lived in the bush of Africa, I know a little something about the impact of light. In a developing country where power may not always be reliable, having a good secondary source of light is vital. In our home we actually installed two sets of solar lights that would be ready with the flip of a switch, but before we had those solar lights we used candles.
There is nothing so dark as when the power suddenly goes and there is no light, anywhere! Someone scrambles, feeling their way to the matches and shouting “Everyone just stay still” until that first candle is lit. When you walk holding that candle while cupping the back of it with your hand to prevent it being blown out, you can barely see anything at all except the flame itself. And no one else can really see its light either, except maybe on your face! If you’re able to remove your cupped hand and hold it out a little or light up an oil lamp to carry, you can see where you’re walking and other people in the room have enough light to at least navigate without bashing shins and toes on the furniture! But when you light up the candles sitting high in the sconces on the wall, or place that candle up on a shelf, it’s amazing how the whole room will light up.
So it is with the light within us. Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life.” When we come to Christ we have that light of life within us. The life of Christ Himself! At first we may hold that light with cupped hands, in awe of its brightness, and letting it wash over us so that we can’t even see past it. Others may look on and see a change in our countenance, or the light reflecting from us. Then we may begin to hold that light out a little, so that it lights our way, step by step. Others may look on and now see the light itself and, ever so dimly, the path that we are walking. And when, finally, we raise that light to its permanent fixture up on the wall or on a high shelf, it gives light to the whole room. By its light others will be able to clearly see the gospel by our lives and our good works.
Let us not forget, however, that we have an enemy who seeks to pull us back into the darkness. If the purpose of letting our light shine is so that others will glorify our Father, then the purpose of our enemy will be to create contempt to prevent the glory. He will constantly try to snuff out the light of Christ through lies, doubt, and fear. He will also try to convince us that we aren’t worthy of this light. That we ought to hide in shame because of our sin. That we should keep a basket over the light so that no one will really see us and our junk, and no one will see the light and then call us a hypocrite. But Jesus said, “You are the light of the world!” That’s you and me! With all our junk and our sin. He didn’t say, “Make sure you get it all together and then let your light shine, because I wouldn’t want you to embarrass me.” No, He said, “Let your light so shine…” like a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. His light brings forgiveness, freedom, grace, and reconciliation, and guides us ever toward holiness!
Finally let us remember that this is all about God’s glory. When we make our good works about us, we can fall into opposite extremes of pride: We can seek after our own glory through our good works, or we can be so self-conscious about people thinking we are seeking our own glory that we just don’t do them! May the light of Jesus so shine within our hearts, that the overflow of our good works may only result in glory for the Father who made us and drove out the darkness by His love.
Live Free. Live Loved.