Genesis 1: 2-3
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.
Ephesians 5: 8-11
For 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) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
You might have heard the joke:
How many Pentecostals does it take to change a light bulb?
Ten. One to change the bulb and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.
We may laugh, but Jesus never called us to pray against darkness. He simply called us to shine our light and the darkness will be dispelled:
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 14-16)
Yesterday we saw from Ephesians 2 that when you place your faith in Jesus, you are made spiritually alive. You receive a new nature and this will begin to impact and influence every area of your life. That’s again what is expressed in verses 8-11 of today’s reading which says:
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light...”
Notice that Paul doesn’t say that you have a light or that you reflect a light. He doesn’t even make it dependent on our behaviour - if you’re good, you’ll be a light. He simply says, “You are light.”
Now there are certain behaviours you can indulge in which can dim your light or put a cover over it. Paul has listed some of these earlier in the chapter. However, even then, the light still shines through, because light is not what you do, light is who you are. If you are a Christian, you are light.
Therefore shine brightly because that’s the most natural thing for light to do. Light doesn’t try to shine, it doesn’t push it, it doesn’t fake it or force it – it just does what it is. It shines.
Yet many Christians hide from darkness, they are afraid of darkness. The concern is that, if exposed to darkness, we might get corrupted or influenced negatively by it. And so we stay within the confines of our Christian subculture and never penetrate the more so-called ‘secular’ sectors of culture or society.
In John 1: 5 we read this:
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Light always overcomes darkness, it’s no competition. Therefore, if I am light, wherever I go, darkness is displaced, because light always overcomes darkness. Even on my worst day, the light will leak out of me.
I can go into the most cutthroat business setting and the light just shines. I can spend time with people whose lifestyle is completely contrary to Godly living and my light spills all over them. I can work in a factory or office which has got a culture which is toxic and negative. Very soon my light will start to push back that darkness and replace it with goodness and life.
Why do we often put more faith in the darkness than we put in the light? We almost expect the world to influence us more than we influence it. When this happens we become passive, fearful and retreat from culture instead of illuminating it with our brilliance and lighting it up with our radiance.
In her excellent book UpperDogs, Sarah Thessien counters such thinking:
“Sometimes we act as if we’re the outsiders - like this is the world’s party and we’re not invited. When passivity takes hold, we live as if the world is comprised of the victors here and we’re just hiding out, hoping to go unnoticed. We mill around the sidelines in a defensive trance....
...While it is an important practice to attend to one’s spiritual safety, we must not stop there. This is Christianity on the defense. It is our wrongful assumption that evil is pervasive and godliness sparse. Without even meaning to, we’re living like the lost are in the dominant position. But that simply isn’t true. We are not the weak ones here. We have the upper hand.”
If Christ is in you, you are empowered to dispel darkness, create culture, impart life and influence every corner of your community. Don't hide your light. Simply shine.