What Are We Shining For?
Stand anywhere in the city at night and you will see lights: streetlights, taillights, headlights, traffic lights. Look higher and you’ll see condos lit from within or a plane’s pulsing lights as it crosses the sky. In the streets, you’ll see store signs add their luminosity to the city in every colour imaginable.
Let’s not forget the Christmas lights! This is the season where fairy lights seem to wind their way around every pillar and tree. They wink at us from wreaths and twinkle on stars. Some shine steadily, some blink in a pattern or to a beat, but everyone can agree: at Christmas, the city shines extra bright.
All of these lights have a reason for shining. Streetlights illuminate the roads for cars and pedestrians. Car and aviation lights help with visibility and signalling. House lights enable us to navigate our homes without tripping or running into things, and store lights are meant to advertise and attract people.
Some lights are meant to keep us away from things. On the highest apartment buildings and condo towers, there are often blinking red lights or an entire band of luminescent colour. These lights are meant to make pilots aware of structures they could collide with if they fly too low. Scenes of accidents, fires or crimes are often lit up by the erratically pulsing lights of police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances. Be it at the scene or in motion, these lights tell us to either turn the other way or move aside so they can pass. Even the stoplights on the streets will flash yellow, then red, warning us not to go past a certain point until the appropriate time.
Some lights celebrate, some lights invite. Others warn us to stay away.
What do we shine for?
As individuals and as a church body, we are all lights. In Matthew 5:14, we are referred to as “the light of the world” and “a city that is set on a hill” (KJV). Verse 15 points out that lights are not meant to be hidden; they are displayed for all to see. Verse 16 concludes with this message: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (KJV).
All of our lights say something. As Christians, it’s imperative that our lights be warm and inviting to others who are looking on from afar off. A city on a hill can be brightly lit with homes or lit to equal brightness by destructive flames. One would draw people, while the other would cause them to turn away
Whether we are aware of it or not, our light shines through how we live. What we truly believe to be true about God and His Word is made manifest in our actions. We are what people see, which is why we can be the lights that illuminate the way to Jesus, especially when we strive to let His love shine through us.
Still, if we aren’t careful we can be warning lights that convince people to turn away from the Truth. When tests and trials come, do we still do our best to stand on Truth? Can we access peace? Can we have joy? Do we strive to love without condition, or could we be seen as the Pharisees in the New Testament who took pleasure in misusing the law to judge the sin and weakness in others so that they could appear more righteous?
There’s a song I listened to as a child called “Does The Light Still Shine?” that tells the story of an ailing elderly man who repeatedly asks a young man who visits him if the light still shines, and if it is bright enough for the lost to find. Initially, the young man thinks he’s asking about a neon sign that says “Jesus Saves” that had been torn down. By the end of the song, the old man has died and the young man begins to realize that he was talking about the light of God’s love shining through people. The young man hears stories at the funeral about how the elder had been someone who took people in, gave them food and taught them about Jesus. He realizes that the love of Christ in the old man was the true light and that it had sparked the same light in others.
Galatians 5:22-23 are well-known verses in the Bible that talk about the fruit of the Spirit. These fruits are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. When we allow Jesus into our lives and develop a relationship with Him, we have the opportunity to grow these fruits in our spirits. These fruits in action become the inviting, warm light that other people see, a light that people come to want within themselves.
Let’s be conscious of the kind of light we’re being in the lives of others. Let us make it our goal to let God’s love shine bright through our lives so that we can be like the Bethlehem star that pointed the wise men to Christ all those centuries ago.
Let’s light up our city with Jesus’ love!