LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES
Among the many themes associated with the Christmas story is that of light. The holiday season is a festival of lights, from Christmas trees twinkling to menorahs flickering, and it is far from coincidental that Christmas occurs around the shortest days and longest nights of the year, making the need for the comfort of light all the more acute. The lights of the holiday season are beacons of joy and hope to young and old alike, dispelling the darkness of despair and depression that often overwhelm people around the end of the year.
The agnostic Bertram Russell once remarked that human life is a long trek through the night. Long before he expressed that sentiment, the prophet Isaiah said, “See, darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people” (Isa. 60:2). Few will deny that as technologically advanced and scientifically sophisticated as 21st century civilization is, our world is still enshrouded in darkness. Humankind of the early 21st century continues to grope about, lost and confused, in a darkness more dense and stubborn than a million nights.
The reality that darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the people is ironic given that light was the first thing that God created (Gen. 1:1-3). Light, like a unifying thread, is a theme that runs through the Bible, which itself is viewed as light (Psalm 119:105, 130). Isaiah writes, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isa. 9:2), continuing, “And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” (Isa. 58:10).
Not surprisingly, light shows up early in the New Testament as a symbol of truth. The gospel writer John states that the role of John the Baptist was that of testifying concerning the “true light that gives light to every man” (John 1:1-9). Who was John talking about? Jesus Himself declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). As He healed a man who had been born blind, Jesus said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).
Jesus predicted that an aversion to light would characterize human life just prior to His second coming. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of the light because their deeds are evil . . . Everyone who does evil hates the light . . . But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light” (John 3:19-21).
Those who are walking in the light enjoy sweet, wholesome relationships with others. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and we do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7).
Called out of darkness into God’s wonderful, marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9), Christians wholeheartedly embrace the call of Jesus Christ to be the lights of the world. Once in darkness, we are now the lights of the world, and expected to live as children of the light (Eph. 5:8-9; 1 Thess. 5:5). That is certainly what the apostle Paul did as he sought to be a light to the gentiles (Acts 26:12-18).
In the chapter entitled “Light Through Darkness” in the classic book, The Great Controversy, my favorite Christian writer says that light was intended to dispel the darkness of hopelessness, despair, and sin. If ever the words spoken by God at creation are needed, it is now. “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). Jesus admonishes, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).
During this season of lights, I wish to encourage you to let your light shine. Please brighten the corner where you are. Go light the world. Dark and lost, our world needs the light of love and hope. Where there is hate, let us ignite forgiveness. Where there is error, let us ignite truth. Where there is war, let us ignite peace. Where there is retaliation, let us ignite reconciliation.
Of the New Jerusalem the apostle John writes, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light” (Rev. 21:23-24). John continues, “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord will give them light” (Rev. 22:5).
What a promise! What a future to which we may look forward! But until then, let us light the world. Until then, let us light the darkness. Until then, let our lights shine before others that they may see our good deeds and glorify God in heaven.
R. Clifford Jones