Living by the Light
The marks of a light-filled life.
Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
As a child I was diagnosed and treated with an eye condition by an ophthalmologist at John Hopkins in Baltimore. I could see, but not as well as I should have. The sight distortion was addressed by a series of surgical procedures. Those early years taught me that sight was a gift and should be treated as such.
If the world was totally dominated by darkness, my sight distortion would never have been discovered nor would it have mattered. Light was needed to detect my sight deficiency. We are born with the ability to see in a world that functions with light. At 186,000 miles per second, light travels from the sun to the earth's surface. That great source of light reveals a world of information that is necessary for sight and survival.
Jesus, while speaking in the Jerusalem Temple courts, wanted his audience to view himself not just as a source of light, but “the light of the world.” What is the significance of viewing Jesus as the ‘world’s light’?
Jesus' declaration accents the great need for light. Darkness exists and, in many ways, dominates our world. Scripture speaks of the various aspects of darkness in passages such as Exodus 10:22 where we read of the plague of darkness that dominated Egypt for three days. In Isaiah 47:5, darkness also describes the condition of distress. The absence of light is considered the opposite of godliness. In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places'' (v.12). And in Matthew 8, Jesus speaks about the “sons of the kingdom” being thrown into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. We live in darkness when we offend God by rebelling and disregarding for his expressed will as given in the Scriptures.
It is also important to understand the nature of light. For some, light means an educational system or economic policy that relieves poverty. In other cases, moral standards, good deeds, or even right theology is considered light. Nothing is necessarily wrong with any of the above. But light, according to Jesus, is himself.
Light it the second person of the Trinity. Jesus declares that he is the light. He has, and always will be, the light of this world. That is really good news and desperately needed.
Everyday we are exposed to stories that remind us of the depressing circumstances of our lives and world touched by darkness. Yet, the benefits of the light are great and endless.
What does a light filled life look like?
I am filled with grief at the reality of owning my sin. And at the same time, I am filled with joy knowing that I’ve been forgiven and covered by God’s grace. Daily, I have a renewed appreciation for the presence of the gospel in my life and it causes me to be still and quiet. The reality of Christ's presence also allows me to be engaged in the government workplace with gospel humility. Philippians 2:1-4 puts it well,
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
I desire to see and concentrate on Christ and his glory. The writer of Hebrews says,
looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 2:12)
For those who live and work in Washington, it is easy to focus on the power and glory of the city. The gospel challenges us to see the true light and let that light consume us.
The light of the gospel will renew my mind. It enables me to see my life and circumstances as one who belongs fully to Christ. The person who works in Washington will find that the light of Scripture affects their family life, finances, career, and community. Paul refers to this reality in Romans 12:2,
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Those who serve in government with a renewed mind will experience a gospel reality in every area of life.
Those who receive mercy will find that they have a heart for those who do not believe because their circumstances prohibit them from seeing the light of truth. 2 Corinthians 4:4 reminds us of this truth,
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord...
Chuck Garriott is the Executive Director and founder of Ministry to State.