Thursday, February 25, 2016

Being Light in the Darkness

Christ is the light of the world (John 1:4,5; 8:12; Isaiah 9:2). And He has called us to be lights reflecting Him (Matthew 5:14-16; Ephesians 5:8; Philippians 2:15). But what does that mean? Light is the revelation of God’s truth (2 Corinthians 4:4-6; Luke 2:32; Acts 13:47). This light not only enlightens, but it opens the eyes of the blind and sets the prisoners free and gives life (Isaiah 42:6,7; John 9:5-7; Isaiah 58:8-10). It also reveals evil and guides us into righteousness (John 3:19-21; Ephesians 5:11-13; 1 John 1:5-10). This is rooted in the fact that Jesus paid the price for our forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13,14; 1 Peter 2:24,25).

One of the implications of this is that being light reaches beyond personal uprightness, though that is certainly part of it. It goes beyond that to reaching out to those who are in need and who need to hear God’s truth. We have the example of Jesus reaching  out to those who were in need of God’s truth (Matthew 9:10-13; Luke 19:1-10; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23). He reached out to women of questionable character, tax gatherers, and other undesirables (John 4:7-26; Luke 7:36-50; Matthew 9:9). Now there is a real danger of being conformed to the world (Romans 12:2; 1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4). But we cannot use that as an excuse to stay in our comfortable Christian ghetto and not reach out to people. There must be a careful balance here of being in fellowship with those who can encourage and support us (Hebrews 10:24,25; 12:12,13; Colossians 2:19) and being witnesses to those who need to know God’s truth (Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15; Matthew 28:18-20). But we must not completely neglect either.

Now one of the problems I think people have here is that they have a stereotype of what they have to be in order to witness for Christ. I am convinced that as there are different gifts in the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11-16), so there are different ways to use them to reach people for Christ. Some may reach people by exhorting them to turn to Christ. Others may do so by serving them. But everything has its place. In this context letting your light shine does not seem to be principally reaching some level of spiritual perfection (though we do not want our life to undercut our witness). But it is reaching out into the darkness to help those who are trapped there. Now to do this we need God’s power  working in us (Colossians 1:28,29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10). But we do need to ask, “What can I do to reach out to those who need to know Christ?” And we need to find what God wants us to do.      

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