Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Confessing Jesus Before Men: Light of the World

"And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8-9 NASB)

We started a new mini-series a few days ago to help us better understand the meaning of confessing Jesus before men. The phrase does not mean we post a meme on social media saying "I love Jesus". In the original language, it means that we say the same things about Jesus (with our lives and our words) that He says about Himself. Yesterday, we looked at "I AM the bread of life."

We turn today to Jesus' words in John 8:12 and a companion verse found in Matthew. 

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." (John 8:12 NASB)

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NASB)

Most towns of any size in the U.S. have street lights that shine at night, illuminating our way. It's hard for us to find a place that's completely void of external light. Because I live in "the country", however, my nights are illuminated by the moon and stars. When the sky is overcast, the nights can be very dark. Walking in that dark, without the aid of artificial light, can be a challenge, especially when the terrain is not level.

Jesus walked this earth at a time when there were no electric lights. Illumination was provided by firelight, candles, and oil lamps. They understood the importance of light because, when the lights were extinguished, darkness was all that remained.

Jesus explained that He is the Light of the world. In the darkness of sin, He is the bright light that brings illumination, clears away our sin, reveals what was hidden, and shines light on the path we should take. 

Light helps us to see things as they are, and the Light of Jesus does that for us, as well. He helps us to see ourselves and others as He sees us (and them). 

During the ice storm of 1994, I was without electricity for more than two weeks. I had candles and oil lamps, but the light was dim. When power was restored and lights blazed in my house again, it revealed more than I wanted to know. The dust that had accumulated was astounding. 

Light reveals. Just as I had an enormous housekeeping job to be done, so the Light of Christ can reveal the dust and grime of sin that accumulates in our lives. That knowledge can change us, if we allow it.

The amazing thing about the Light of Christ is that sometimes His Light reveals my sin to me and sometimes it helps me see His amazing love for me.

There's another fact about the Light of Christ that is mind-blowing. When I follow Him, His Light can shine in me. Through the Holy Spirit, He can fill my life with His Light. I reveal that light by the way I live my life and the "good works" I do. 

When I love my enemy, I allow the light of Christ to shine on him/her. When I visit those who are sick, feed the hungry, encourage the downhearted, rescue the perishing, I allow the light of Christ to shine through.  

I don't have the light of Christ because of my good works. I do good works because of the light of Christ in me. 

How do I obtain this Light? Jesus made it very simple. "He who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life." 

Following Jesus. Not only does it take us out of darkness and allow us to "walk in light", but it's also the only way to be filled with His light.

Heavenly Father, Help me to follow Jesus and His ways. Fill me with His light and help me to be a light in the darkness, shining so brightly that all can see Jesus in me. In His name, Amen.