As we move into winter and the days become shorter, I like to light candles. I light one on the kitchen counter on school mornings to cheer our day. I light one at dinner as we gather together as a family to reflect on our day. And, of course, I light one whenever I simply feel like it!
Lighting candles has made me think about how Jesus came to be the Light of the world. What is light? As a biblical metaphor it is all that is good and true and right and loving. Light contrasts with darkness. Throughout the gospels, it is amazing how Jesus was Light as he engaged with so much darkness: the hard hearts of the Pharisaical leaders, the debilitating physical ailments of the sick, and the terrifying spiritual oppression of the demon-possessed. In the midst of darkness, he was Light that lived out every aspect of love. Zechariah prophesied of Jesus:
“the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” ~Luke 1:78-79
Like Jesus, we are called to be light as we engage with the dark world around us! We are called to be like Jesus. We become like him as we open up our lives to God so He can work through us. Have you ever noticed how you can barely see the flame of candle by daylight? But it’s light is radiant and visible by night? We are to be in the world but not of it. He asks us to interact rather than hide away. As we interact, we live out Jesus-love that shines light on people and situations around us. Jesus said:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:14-16
Love engages with people and circumstances, and shines brightest in the darkness! There will always be darkness in this life – imperfections, stresses, irritations, and internal struggles. It encourages me that light shines brightest in darkness. The hard parts of life are to be engaged with well, rather than avoided. It is in these shadow-places in our lives that there is the greatest need for Jesus. These hard things are an invitation to draw near to him. Christ’s light radiates out of those who follow him. This gives us courage and hope!
Jesus is the sunrise that gives light to those who sit in darkness. Is there a shadow-place in your life where you need his light to shine?
How will you shine in darkness – courageously engaging with people and situations around you to share Jesus-love?