JOHN 8:12 (NIV)
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
A third, important Advent image that feeds the roots of Jesus’ story is the image of God as Light. Light is part of the biblical narrative from the very beginning of time. In the storyline of Jesus, we discover that God is always bringing light into dark places, clarity and truth into the dim shadows of a broken world. In Advent, Jesus comes to us as the Light of the World.
Jesus is the Light that dispels the shadows that lurk in the human heart. From the Garden to the Gospels, from the Great Commission to the Great City of the New Jerusalem, God has been, is, and will be lighting up hearts, and lighting up the world.
There is a high probability that for those of us who put up Christmas lights in or around our home, one of our favorite things to do is to turn off all the other lights in order to see them glow. Maybe you do what my family does; during the Christmas season we take drives around different neighborhoods in our town to see the hard work people have invested in decorating their houses with way too many lights.
Some well-known homes in our town are so lit up they can be seen from a few streets over, and probably from space. These domestic spectacles even have a radio station signal you can tune into, in your car, to see their lights dance along with the music. As Tiny Tim might say, “God bless their neighbors, every one.”
The point is this. Light is best seen, maybe even best understood for its value and power, when it shines in the dark.
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). The darkness of the chaotic and meaningless void was lit up by the Lord of Creation. The Gospel of John picks up this theme and says that God’s very being is Light: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (John 1:1-5). Revelation ties a bow on the image by saying about Christ in the New Jerusalem: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Rev. 21:23).
In the Old Testament, the people of God were called to be a light, shining the truths of the nature of God, the ways of worship, and how to treat one another, into the world. “…I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Is. 49:6).
When Jesus comes on to the scene, he declares: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). John spends a considerable amount of time reinforcing the image for us: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world” (John 1:9). “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). “Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8).
Jesus turns to us and says: “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). We are to shine like stars in the sky (Phil. 2:15), living as children of light in our families, towns, and cities: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light…” (Eph. 5:8). “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:15-16).
You and I are lights in the world, following the Light of the World. Step into the darkness into which Christ walks with you, bearing the Good News of Jesus’ love for all you meet, and shine like a star in our generation.
Light of the World, shine your love on my heart this season. I know there are dark places for you to reveal, to bring your loving light to, so that I can be set free from those things that are still hidden within me. Let me shine the light of your love to everyone who meets me in this season. In Jesus’ name, amen.
What environments have you been called to be a light within, in your home, church, or city? How could you be an even brighter light in those environments this Advent season?
For the Awakening,