The Light shines in the darkness…

lighttOne of our deacons asked her 97-year old grandmother what she thought was the most important change in culture over the last century.  Her grandmother said electric lighting.

That got our deacon–and us, her Sunday school class–to think about what life was like before electric lights.

Sure, there were candles and lanterns in the old days.  Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves were also a mainstay in many a home.  Yet, none of those items really brighten up an indoor space like electric lighting.

I also mentioned how nice it might be, however, if we didn’t have bright lights everywhere.  For one, people wouldn’t see all the dust in the corners of my house.

Candle-lit dinners are romantic too.  Reading by a fireside is cozy.  But, I wouldn’t give up electricity for all  of that.

In the gospel of John, Jesus describes himself as the light of the world.  “I am the light…whoever follows me will never walk in darkness” (8:12).

We see this as a positive attribute of having a relationship with God: In Christ, we do not stumble in the dark and darkness does not overwhelm us.  We enjoy being in the light, especially in the light of God’s love.

But the light also discloses that which is hidden.  Like my preference for people not seeing the dust in the corners of my room, I do not want God’s light to shine everywhere in my life because I’m afraid of what I–and God–might see.

We find this concept in Luke’s gospel: “For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to the light” (8:17).  Some of us avoid God just so this doesn’t happen!

When we experience the light of Christ it can be scary to face all of who we are, but it can be very liberating.  Only when we confess our sins do we experience the fullness of God’s grace and be “cleansed from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Those of us who have yet to admit that we are sinners have yet to walk in God’s light.

One time, when my family and I went camping, I went to the showers at night.  I had my cell phone, which has a flashlight app.  When I was walking back to the camp site, I noticed that the phone battery was dying.  I saw it blink down to 2 percent, then 1 percent.  Then it turned off.

I tried to turn it back on, but as soon as I switched the flashlight function on, it immediately went dead.

The weather on that particular night was overcast, absent of moonlight or stars.  The phone went dead in a bend on the road afar from other camp sights.  I couldn’t see anything at all, not even the road.

I stood there for a moment and thought of what to do.  It was getting late, and no one would be walking at that time of night.  I was stuck.

I figured that if I walked slowly, my feet would eventually hit gravel and I could simply follow the side of the road back to the camper.  Thankfully, that worked, and I made it back safe and sound.

I knew instinctively that I was not in trouble.  Even if I had to stay there for an hour, my wife would eventually come for me (I think!).   But it was scary.  All I wanted was light to show me where I had to go.

So with Christ.  Sure, that blinding light of God can be scary sometimes and forces us to face up to the things that displease him, but a life without any light at all–Christ’s light especially–keeps us lost and wandering through a life unfulfilled and absent of salvation and sanctification.

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