A few nights ago I had to drive somewhere really late at night. It was dark and raining, and I was traveling through rural farmland. Gradually, I began to perceive a pulsing light out of the corner of my eye. In a moment, I was able to see it much better. Thinking it was lightning, I remarked to myself how bad the storm must be farther off in that direction. But as I observed this illumination I realized that it was very regular and was not lightning at all. At this point, I was intrigued and fervently wondering about its source.
Finally, I discerned that I had passed a tall radio tower or antennae, far from the road off in a field. The light was fixed to the top of this tower and pulsed in its regular pattern for the safety of passing planes and aircraft. The light was powerful, to say the least. When it pulsed it would illuminate all of the clouds from horizon to horizon on the left side of the highway. I was amazed at the fact that man could harness a power like electricity and bend it to his will so as to create a light bulb that repelled darkness so completely and so extensively. It was truly amazing.
Immediately, I began to think of all the references in the Bible about light. And particularly, what the Bible says about light in contrast with darkness.
The Bible says….
That believers are stars, Philippians 2:15 “…children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”
and that they are the light of the world, Matthew 5:14-16, “… you are the light of the world, a tower built on a hill can not be hidden, neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in Heaven.”
Part of the reason that God elects and saves people is so that they can be lights. God in His immeasurable mercy and goodness saves undeserving people and changes them from being part of the darkness to being a brilliant beacon that splits the gloom. The Bible says that all believers were once darkness, but in Christ are made children of light and walk in the fruit of the light: goodness, righteousness, and truth (Ephesians 5:8-9).
God saves people who rebel against Him, who are opposed to Him, who want nothing to do with Him, who are bent on doing things their way, who are enslaved to their own lusts and cravings and who ultimately want to be their own objects of worship. God does this through His son, Jesus Christ. Jesus paid the full penalty of all the sin of all of those who would turn from their sin and believe and trust in Him when He died on the cross. He demonstrated that price was a sufficient payment for that sin by rising from the dead three days later. Thus he transferred slaves in the domain of darkness into his own Kingdom of Light.
The world is dark. No one needs me to tell them that. At any moment, some pitiful helpless child is being mistreated or abused or worse. Corrupt and evil leaders conspire in secret to execute genocide on multiple people groups. Husbands abandon families every day. Drug dealers exert great energy to sell their wares with staggering degrees of success with no thought to the welfare of their customers. No person on planet Earth is free from pain. None have succeeded in escaping anguish. All have cried. All have been sinned against. All have sinned. Every one of us has hurt someone else. On purpose. All of us have been hurt by another. On purpose. At one point or another. We are, indeed, a people enslaved to darkness. And we live in a world where darkness has domain.
That’s why Christ offers blindingly, brilliant, glorious redemption. Jesus fully restores all the wrongs. He is completely sufficient to make all wrongs right. When Jesus saves a person, not only is that person’s wrongs and sins all forgiven, all paid for, all cast to the bottom of the sea, all nailed to the cross, not only that, Christ imparts the POWER to do good. The ability to be light and ask for forgiveness. To extend forgiveness. To offer words that edify. To give life instead of take it. To serve with strength that God provides for the benefit of others. To consider others as better than oneself and to seek the interests of others. These don’t originate in a person. They have their origin in God. He is the source of all goodness. So it is God who changes a person from darkness to light. So when a believer shines like a star in the universe and looks different, the attention is to be on the One who changed them. Jesus Christ.
I want to be a light. I want to grow and be brighter. I want to live like what Christ has saved me to be: a star in the universe. I want to be a beacon that shines a spotlight on the Great One, the Matchless One, the King of Righteousness, the Lion and the Lamb Jesus.
So let’s not be fooled by what our culture would have us believe: that Christian character is an American thing. No its a supernatural thing. Being a light in a dark world is not something we humans are able to do. We are helpless to shine. We need light imputed to us.
That night, when I saw that light I saw how that light’s influence extended vastly beyond where the light itself was situated. The contrast was fascinating. There was nothing else bright up there. There is only one Bright One. And He gave himself so we could be with Him.
Jason Faircloth, Director of Mission Advancement