December 13, 2016

Lighting Your World with the Light of Christmas

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Isaiah 60:1-3

Because the Light of Christmas has come, we are called to reflect His light in a dark world. How do we do that?  Paul picks up on this theme of lighting your world with the light of Christmas in his letter called Philippians.  He says,

“Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life….” Philippians 2:14-16 (NLT) 

Christ followers have a choice. We can curse the darkness around us, or we can light a candle.  Which do you choose? If the Gospel is good news and we are to communicate that good news, wouldn’t we be more effective if we were lighting a candle? Are you lighting your world? It’s human nature to react to the darkness, crookedness, and perversion in our world today and complain about it. But, Paul urges his readers in Philippi to be different. It’s interesting to note that he’s writing this from a prison cell in Rome where he is wrongfully incarcerated for sharing the good news about Jesus. He resisted the temptation to complain about the injustice of his circumstances or the sinful culture that surrounded him. Instead he said, “Do everything without complaining and arguing….” 

That was not only wise counsel for believers then but, also, for us today! There is plenty to find fault with today. We can complain about the massive changes that rapidly limit our religious freedoms and argue with those who don’t believe the way we do. Yet, Paul offers a more effective approach that won’t sour our dispositions and embitter our spirits, like finding fault does so often. When the world around you is dirty, he says, “Live clean, innocent lives as children of God. When the world around you gets darker full of crooked and perverse people, Paul challenges us to shine like bright lights!”

How do we light our world when we live in such darkness? I think the answer is in the next line of Paul’s charge to us. “Hold firmly to the word of life!”  John’s Gospel tells us in John 1:4,

In Him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men.” 

For our lights to shine, we must have the fuel of His life! Hold firmly to the word of life! Jesus is the word of life. When you have His life inside, He turns the light on! His life enables us to shine like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.