In Sunday school we often used to sing “This little light of mine, I am going to let it shine” I am not sure I fully understood all the implications of what I was singing. Yesterday we made Christingles, and reminded ourselves that Jesus came to be the light of the world. We shared the flame and I hope you realise that as you took the Christingle out of the church you were doing a bit of mime. You were saying that you were taking the light of Christ with you where ever you go. Did you realise the implications of taking your Christingle home any more than I understood what it meant to sing that I was going to let my little light shine?
There is a passage where Paul sort of unpacks that mine, of what it means to let Jesus light shine through our lives.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, AMONG WHOM YOU SHINE AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. —Philippians 2:14-16, ESV (emphasis added)
Paul is picking up on a theme that we find throughout Scripture. In the OT the people of Israel were to be a “light to the nations.” In the Gospel of John, Jesus is called “the true light, which gives light to everyone” (John 1:9). Throughout the rest of the New Testament, the followers of Jesus are called to be lights in the darkness.
So, what does it mean to shine in the darkness? I think it means:
Just watch the news and you will soon be reminded that we live in a dark world. Jesus gives us our mission in this dark world
““You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5
Jesus said we are to live lives of contrast. Light is the opposite of darkness, you cant mistake light for darkness. In the same way Jesus says openly, clearly and authentically we are to live our lives so we are light in the darkness. When we live by the values of the Kingdom of God, when we live for something more than our pleasure, when we turn the other cheek when people hurt us, when we love even our enemies, when we love without expecting a return, when we treat others with grace, people see the contrast and our light shines in the darkness.
This what Paul means when he tells us that we are to “ blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, AMONG WHOM YOU SHINE AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD, holding fast to the word of life”
BEING INVOLVED IN THE REAL WORLD
There is a stream of Christian thinking that says we can best serve God by withdrawing from the world, so monks and nuns live in isolation and often evangelical Christians live in a Christian bubble where they have little or no contact with people who don’t share their faith.
Jesus by contrast says we are to be “the light of the world” The world in the NT doesn’t mean the physical planet, but human culture that has rejected and resists God. So we are to live these lives not separated from that dark God rejecting culture but in the midst of it. Jesus is pretty clear about this, “let your light shine before others”
This isn’t an excuse to go to sinful places and get involved in sinful behaviors but a call to live in a way that takes the light of Christ, the transforming power of the Kingdom of God seen in and through our lives where ever we go. We are to shine in our families, our work places, in our communities, in relationships with people who don’t know Christ, in the arts, in conflicts between people and communities.
Gerard Kelly who was with us earlier in the year says that we are to be Christ’s Glitterball as the church. As light hits a glitter ball its reflected into every dark corner of the room, as Jesus light “hits” the church we are to reflect that light in every dark corner of society.
The point of all this, isn’t to get people to think what great people we are but to remind people of what a great God we have Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others,” but that wasn’t the whole sentence. He went on to give the reason why it’s important to shine: “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16b).
Our lives should always be pointing back to the light source. Our goal should never be to seek recognition to ourselves, but to bring glory to God. There’s a fine line between being a light and putting on a show to get attention. It’s a matter of the heart.
Now did you realise the significance of taking that Christingle home? … Go and let your little light shine in the darkness !