Shine brightly for the world to see.
Have you ever noticed at sunrise how people stop and gather at the best viewing spots to watch it?
One time I was at the beach watching the sunrise over the water and I noticed how before the sunrise, everyone was busy doing their own thing: some alone, some in groups; some active, some sitting. But as soon as the sun started to rise, whatever they were doing, everyone stopped and looked. Surfers stopped surfing and sat on their boards watching. Runners paused to take in the beauty. People were gathering around taking photos of the beauty in the sky.
Nothing much other than light in the sky can get us all to stop what we are doing and look in the same direction. The world can’t resist a good display of light by the sun, moon, stars or lightning.
The sunrays are my favourite part of a sunrise or sunset. I love the distinct paths of sunlight. What if the world saw us as the rays of light that God sends out into the world to shine His glory?
If we, as a collective group of Christ-followers, lived up to our potential in Christ, Christianity would be so incredibly irresistible to the world. The light we would radiate in an otherwise dark world would be so attractive to them. The more we shine our light, the more people will decide to also walk in the light, making our collective light even brighter.
How do we shine brightly? We live like Jesus.
It’s as simple and as challenging as that.
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. (Ephesians 5:1)
Man, what a challenge but a beautiful invitation at the same time. Philippians 2:15-16 urges us to be “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation” so that we “shine like stars in the dark world” as we “hold firmly to the word of life". Have a read of the Message translation:
…Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night… (Philippians 2:14-16)
We are breaths of fresh air in our polluted societies. We are meant to be obviously different. Our light should not be hidden:
You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:14-16)
One December, when I was a little kid, my Dad made this big Christmas light that read the name Jesus. We had it sitting out the front of our house where people could see it as they walked or drove along our street. I loved it! I thought it was amazing for two reasons: my Dad had made it, and it proclaimed the real reason for Christmas. My brother and I were playing outside one day, and noticed that the cord that powered our Christmas light had been cut. Someone must have come onto our property and cut it the night before.
I was devastated that someone would do that. I was sad for two reasons: someone destroyed something my Dad had made, and someone disliked the thought of Jesus so much that they would remove His name. I learned that day that not everyone likes Jesus. But that’s even more reason we need to shine His light so that people see Jesus for who He really is.
The world may try to remove the light of Christ from the world, but they can't. The light lives in us. We shine the light. The world may set up laws and boundaries and persecute in order to hide our light. They may even think they are successful in removing the light but Christ’s light cannot be cut like a cord:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:5)
Shining your light doesn't mean you need to have a big light-up name of Jesus out the front of your house. It doesn't require anything like that, though it does require you to be unashamed of Him, following His teachings.
If we reflect the light of Jesus, people should be drawn to us. If we live like Jesus, they will be more likely to want to find out why we are different. Christ should be evident in us. He is the light of the world:
Later, Jesus talked to the people again, saying, “I am the light of the world. The person who follows me will never live in darkness but will have the light that gives life.” (John 8:12)
And our job is to let Him shine in and through us for all people to see:
This is what the Lord told us to do, saying: ‘I have made you a light for the nations; you will show people all over the world the way to be saved.’ (Acts 13:47)
So shine brightly my fellow light-bearers.
1 Peter 2:9
1 John 1:5-7
1 John 2:8-11
2 Corinthians 4:6-18