A couple months ago, I was sitting in our family room with my wife and children. It was later in the evening and we were just relaxing together. For the most part, the room was quiet, but that silence was abruptly interrupted by a loud crash. I had no idea what it was. It honestly sounded to me like a dresser tipped over upstairs, but I was particularly confused as to how that could have happened since we were all sitting together and no one was upstairs.
At this point, my mind started racing through all the possibilities. Was someone trying to break into the house? Had something fallen on the house? I really had no clue what I was about to find. I ran upstairs expecting the worst, and when I got there, I saw nothing. Not a single thing was out of place.
At that point, I ran outside to see if something had hit the house or fallen on top of it. But being that it was dark, I couldn't see very well. Then my son said to me, "Dad, I just ordered the world's most powerful flashlight online. Would you like to give it a try?"
"The world's most powerful flashlight?", I thought to myself. What on earth was that? So he ran inside to grab it, showed me how to turn it on, and to his credit I have to admit, it was the most powerful flashlight I had ever used. I was amazed and how well it allowed me to examine our property in the pitch black. I felt like I could see everything, even when I stood across the street to get a better look at our roof.
In the end, it turned out there was nothing wrong with our house. Nothing hit it or damaged it. Our neighbors were enjoying an outside fire and mixed in with what they were burning was something that ignited and created a loud bang. And even though it was dark, the light from my son's super powerful flashlight helped us figure out what had happened.
Light is useful. Light is something we need. Light defeats the power and effect of darkness. Jesus is the light that has come into this word, and He lives within all who trust in Him. As He lives within us, He enables us to walk in the light while He also radiates His light through our lives.
I. We were used to walking in darkness, but we don't need to any longer
Darkness is something we're all reasonably familiar with. I'm guessing that for the most part, darkness is something we've become rather accustomed to. Our family has friends who live in Alaska and for long stretches of the year, they deal with considerable darkness. I think that would be difficult for my family. My wife confessed to me recently that she was glad that we were past the start of the Winter months because now the amount of daylight begins to increase each day.
But there's a form of darkness that we can easily grow used to that the Lord doesn't want us to acclimate ourselves to. Often, when Scripture speaks of the concept of darkness, it's speaking about living a life that's distant from God. When we're living in spiritual darkness, the evidence of that reality becomes obvious. Our ambitions are primarily worldly. Our desires are centered around the accumulation of earthly goods. Our longing to exact revenge on others instead of extending forgiveness is heightened, and our lives are lived with the primary goal to satisfy fleshly appetites.
I believe it's fair to say that, for many people, that's how they're used to living their lives, but Jesus came to us with the goal to interrupt that pattern. Isaiah spoke about that in his prophesy about the coming Messiah. About 700 years before Christ came to this earth, the Holy Spirit gave Isaiah a prophetic word that he wrote down related to the time of Christ's coming. And in that prophesy, Isaiah spoke of a light shining on those who had been walking in darkness. Jesus is that light. With compassion, He looked upon those who had grown used to walking in darkness and came to them, revealed Himself to them, and showed them the light of His gospel.
Isaiah's prophesy speaks of Jesus with several proper titles. He referred to Christ as, "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Consider what Isaiah was telling us there. He was revealing that the Messiah who would be coming, would be God Himself. The Father of salvation. The Counselor who brings the deepest comfort. The One who has the ability to grant us the peace our hearts long for. Jesus satisfies our deepest hunger. We were used to walking in darkness, but we don't need to any longer because the Prince of Peace has come.
II. Jesus makes us able to walk in the light
Growing up, did you ever have a friend who was really just a big show off? I had a few, and you'd think people would grow out of that mindset, but not everyone does. I'm coming up on my 25th high school reunion, but I'll never forget the experience of my 10th reunion and watching one particular guy drive up to the reunion on a fancy sports car, slide it on the gravel as he parked, then strut out of the car to greet everyone like he was waiting for applause.
When Jesus came into this world, He didn't come here to show off. Jesus is the light, and He certainly came to convince us of that truth, but He wasn't looking to show off. He was looking to impart His light to us and enable us, through His supernatural power, to walk in the light.
In 1 John 1, we're told that there is no darkness at all in God. Part of what John is communicating in that passage is that there is nothing wicked or sinful in God. By nature, He is perfect in all His ways. And amazingly, God wants to be both our Father and our friend. It's the desire of His heart to have fellowship with you and me. He doesn't want us to live distantly from Him, but up close. He wants you and I to live each day with with a heightened awareness of His presence - no longer thinking of Him as being distant and in the clouds far away, but realizing that He is right here, present in every room we inhabit. It makes a huge difference in our lives when we begin to live with an understanding of the fact that God is near, instead of mistakenly thinking of Him as existing at a distance away from us.
But if we say we walk in fellowship with God, and claim to have a relationship with Him yet we continue to embrace the dark side of life in this world that's fueled by our selfish ambition and sinful desires, we're demonstrating that we don't know Him at all. We may know about Him, but we haven't experienced the blessing of a relationship with Him yet.
But when we walk in the light of Christ, as those who have come to God the Father, through God the Son, by the power of God the Holy Spirit, we're demonstrating that our faith is genuine, our love for God is sincere, and we have welcomed the cleansing work of Christ whereby He has cleansed us of all sin by shedding His blood on the cross on our behalf. As we trust in Christ and experience the forgiveness He offers, He enables and empowers us to walk in the light. We're made able to walk as He walked, not in our natural strength, but in His power.
III. We don't have to pretend to be perfect to impress each other
How difficult is it for you to admit you've made a mistake? I think for most of us, it can be somewhat challenging, but isn't it a relief when you're able to let your guard down a little and admit that you aren't perfect? Not long ago, I was driving our family in the van and attempted to put the dome light on so my son could see something. I wasn't sure why it didn't seem to be working properly until my wife pointed out that I was turning the air vent on and off, but wasn't coming even close to pressing the button that controlled the lights. At my expense, it was rather funny.
One of the biggest obstacles that seems to get in the way of many people experiencing a relationship with God is their insistence in being seen as perfect already. When people point out our insufficiencies or errors in life, it can be challenging to receive that well. But here's the thing, we aren't OK on our own. Jesus came to people walking in darkness, not to those who had no need for His help. And if we falsely claim that we're already perfect and don't have sins, struggles, and shortcomings in our lives, we're effectively saying, "Jesus, I don't need you." It pains me to even say that hypothetically. And in addition to that, if we claim we're perfect without Christ, we're effectively claiming that God is a liar because He said we need to be saved by the Savior.
The good news is that in Christ, we can drop our disguises and pretenses. We don't have to pretend that we're perfect any longer. We can stop playing that game, and we can simply thank Him for taking the time to come into this world to rescue us. We didn't even know we needed to be rescued until He made that need known to us. We were content to walk in darkness, but now, through Him, we can experience His righteousness and walk in His light.
Right now is the perfect opportunity for us to individually and collectively thank Him for loving us like this. Jesus brings light to those in darkness and He gives us the divinely orchestrated privilege to experience the light of His goodness, the joy of forgiveness, and eternal salvation if we trust in Him. If you invite Him into your life and welcome Him to be your Lord, you will be granted the privilege to experience the joy of His salvation forever.
© John Stange, 2018