Reflecting the Light
Reflecting the Light! John 12:44b-50
Have you ever found yourself stumbling around in your own home... at night... in the dark? Or tripping over your own feet a dark corner of your attic... or basement? Or maybe you’ve tried to walk around in your backyard at night, with no flood-lights turned on... and with no flashlight. If you’re anything like me, you frequently fumble around for your keys at the front door because you forgot to leave the porch light on, and you can’t see the keyhole! Without light it’s hard to function... it’s hard to carry out everyday activities.
Light’s important. Something like 80% of our everyday life depends on light... and the ability of our retina to absorb that light turning it into sight!
But light is more, much more, that just seeing! Because light also refers to understanding... as in being enlightened... To be enlightened is to grow in wisdom, and knowledge, and learning. Those who fail to learn... those who don’t seek enlightenment fall behind. Any student or teacher can attest to that!
Of course, one of the main themes (or thoughts) of John’s gospel is that Jesus is the light of the world (John 1: 9; 8: 12; 12: 6)! Jesus illuminates our lives... guiding us in the Way, the Truth and the Life!
Jesus, as the Word made flesh... lights our way... as God’s Word is a “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
But as the truth of God’s Word lightens the darkness... it exposes a lot of stuff... and that exposure can be scary... as it revels all those attitudes and actions that keep us “out-of-step” with God’s will and ways.
1 Corinthians 4:5: “[God] will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God…”
Ephesians 5:8-10-11: “…you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light …for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth... find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
I Thessalonians 5:4-6, 8: “…you are not in darkness so that the day of the Lord’s return should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled...”
Of course, the light of Christ MAY be intimidating... because it reveals the truth. But the truth is what sets us free... it exposes our flaws for sure... our shortcomings and sins - but it also reveals our perfections and encourages us in our faith, as it leads us in righteousness...
Because God’s Truth is always reliable... we can trust the God’s Truth. Psalm 36:9, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” We see what’s right and holy and good in God’s Light! We can know the truth about ourselves and about everything else when we trust God’s Word. When we trust God, his word and his light, we begin to see that God is faithful and true, steadfast and unchanging, just as he says.
The light of Christ gives us the direction... focus... purpose that we need to be the Children of God.
Where do we go in life? How do we navigate through circumstances and trials? The ups and downs? On what do we base our goals or happiness? Psalm 25: 5, “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Which reminds us, that in the end, the light of Christ is our hope. Psalm 37:23-24 says, “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” We want and need God to uphold us, don’t we? We need God’s hand to help us through, especially when trouble comes. God wants us to have the light of Jesus, and to know the hope of Christ.
In 1864 during the Civil War, the Confederate army of General Robert E. Lee faced General U. S. Grant’s Union Army at Petersburg, Virginia. The war was 3½ years old and the soldiers were tired of fighting. Late one winter evening, one of Lee’s generals, George Picket, received news that his wife had given birth to a son. Up and down the Southern line Confederate soldiers began lighting bonfires to celebrate the good news. Of course, lighting bonfires in the dark winter night in the middle of a war zone is frowned upon... the light from the fire exposes your position.
And these fires didn’t go unnoticed by the Northern camps. General Grant asked what was going on. He was told the news that General Picket’s wife had given birth to a new son. These two generals, Grant and Picket, now opponents, had once been comrades at West Point Military Academy and they knew each other well. So to honor the occasion, General Grant also lit bonfires to celebrate the birth. A peculiar sight indeed: fires burning along both sides of the lines... no shots were fired, no yelling back and forth; there was only light in order to celebrate new life.
Of course, it didn’t last. Soon the fires burned out and darkness returned. Reminding us that Jesus’ Words are true, “the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
But the Good News of the Gospel is that in the midst of the darkness of sin, God sent Light. And the darkness was not able to overcome it.
There are times when world events and personal tragedies seem to plunge us into darkness and we may feel that the light has been snuffed out, but the Bible affirms that whatever happens, God’s light in Jesus light still shines... still offering us hope.
Alexandros Pap-a-der-os, was a lay theologian in the Orthodox Church of Crete... He was asked in an interview about the purpose of life & what the purpose of life was.
To answer: Papaderos reached into his wallet, and took out a small mirror, about the size of a quarter.
He said, “I was a small child during the war. One day, on the road I found a broken mirror and I kept the largest piece, this one. I began to play with it and I became fascinated with it. I noticed that it could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine, deep holes, crevices, dark closets. I kept the little mirror... and as a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game but a metaphor for what I could do with my life, namely that I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design I do not know. [BUT] with what I have, I can reflect light – truth, understanding, meaning, knowledge – into the black places in the hearts of men and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise...”
You and I... as followers of Jesus Christ... not only receive the light that guides us and sustains us... but we’re called to shine the light... to be the light... to reflect the light... in order to help others find their way out of darkness.
Of course, there are those (there will ALWAYS be those) who refuse to accept the Light. But that’s no excuse for us not to share it...
Jesus said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes should stay in darkness...” What are we doing to shine the light... to be the light... to reflect the light... in order to help others find their way out of darkness.