I grew up in Jamaica in an era when there were frequent power cuts. Being suddenly plunged into darkness was a regular occurrence. Darkness is uncomfortable, inconvenient, unproductive, and sometimes downright dangerous! As such, we made bottle lamps and bought ready-made lamps, flashlights, candles, and a few standby generators. Such was our preparation to cope with pending darkness.
Dealing with power cuts is still the case for many people in different parts of the world. But what about the darkness of the soul that needs a light source much greater, more accessible, and longer lasting than our man-made light?
God has provided that greater light: His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said of Himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, NIV). Sadly, then as now, the light shines in darkness, but the darkness doesn’t understand, appreciate, or accept Him (1:5). Many settle for fake light sources, such as people, places, and things, but they always disappoint and lead to ruin. The only hope for the world is Jesus Christ, the true light.
Like John, we have been sent to bear witness of this light. Many in the past professed to be the true light and some still do, only to fail. Darkness can’t dispel darkness; only the true light can. He does this by giving us all things for life and godliness so we can escape the world’s corruption and embody God’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:3, 4).
In essence, the job title of the citizens of God’s kingdom is “light of the world,” the same as Jesus’ title (Matthew 5:14). The atrocities of this world’s darkness thicken every day. Therefore, we must allow the true light to dispel our darkness so we can be authentic witnesses of Jesus Christ.
Arming for battle
The return of our Savior is imminent; the prophecies and signs of the times indicate that He is even at the door. If ever there was a time for God’s children to put on Christ and shine His light, it is now! This is what Paul emphasized:
Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day . . . But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Romans 13:12-14).
Effectively bearing witness of the light first necessitates dethroning and expelling the works of darkness and intentionally putting on the armor of light. Most, if not all, Christians are aware of the armor of God in Ephesians 6:11-18. But did you know that light is armor as well? It is a protection for battle.
Without a doubt, we are in a spiritual war, and the war is fully engaged. We need the true light as our protection. But if we attempt to wage war, encumbered by the weight of our own sin, we will court death. We risk being defeated by the enemy of our souls, the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10), whose job description is to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).
The challenge to rid ourselves of sin is probably harder today than ever before. We live in a time when sin is being relabeled, repackaged, and topped off with a cute bow. Isaiah 5:20 sets us straight: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (KJV). With God, darkness is still and will always be darkness. Refashioning sin to look like something else is part of that darkness.
When we allow the true light to be our armor, we can protect ourselves from the deeds of darkness aimed at destroying us. And as God’s special people (1 Peter 2:9), we can be more effective in proclaiming to the world the light it needs to see.
We are mandated to not only bear witness to the light but also shine for Him before others in our daily deeds. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Notice that He instructed us to not just shine (i.e., reflect the glory of God) but to so shine! The word so is an intensifier adverb that modifies an adjective, verb, or other adverbs. Hence, our shining must be of a high standard, empowered by divine energy. Christ himself energizes us both to will and do His good pleasure and good works (Philippians 2:13). We must always shine so we can bring glory to our heavenly Father. If our light turns a spotlight on us, it is an abuse of the light in us and of the true light.
Furthermore, there is no point in being light if we are hidden: “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house” (Matthew 5:15). As ambassadors of light, we ought to be diligent carriers of the true light and embrace opportunities to have the greatest influence in reflecting it.
God’s love sent us the true light (John 3:16). Equally so, from the platform and motivation of love we shine our light to honor God with all our heart, mind, and strength and to serve our neighbors.
We all have dwelled in darkness, but now we are called to live as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). The responsibilities and functions of being ambassadors of light are high, holy, and huge. To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). The light of Jesus Christ is a free gift, but treasuring, serving, and living this gift is significantly ours as co-laborers with Christ. Being a passive and complacent lighthouse is irresponsible. We are called to be active, disciplined, and joyful ambassadors, partnering with God to dethrone and dispel the darkness.
The parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 illustrates the necessity and responsibility to join the adventurous challenge of co-laboring with Jesus as ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven. Is there oil in our lamps?
Light of hope
The stronghold of darkness presents a constant battle, internally and externally. Sometimes we win, sometimes we fail. We have all missed the mark, which is what sin is. Even with the best resolve, we fall short and even deliberately rebel.
That’s why we can relate to the full-on war Paul describes in Romans 7:14-24. He is transparent about the extent and agony of his struggle with darkness, which brought him into captivity: “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (v. 24, KJV).
If your light is flickering, gone dim, or gone out, or if you’ve never embraced the true light, there is hope. Come and see the true light, Jesus Christ. Then share it freely with others.
What are Ambassadors of Light?
Ambassadors of light embody special characteristics. They . . .
- Live in the light: “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
- Reject the darkness: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11, KJV). “Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly” (1 Thessalonians 5:22, 23, KJV).
- Abhor the practices and places of darkness: “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9, KJV).
- Enjoy fellowship with God: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:5, 6, KJV).
- Bear much fruit: “Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. . . . Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:2, 8, KJV).
- Are selective in their associations: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33, KJV).
- Keep the commandments of the Lord: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. . . . He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (John 14:15, 21).
- Practice disciplines of the light, such as studying the Word (2 Timothy 2:15); singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19); fasting (Matthew 17:21; Isaiah 58); praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17); generous giving (Ecclesiastes 11:1; Acts 20:35); solitude (Psalm 46:10); joyfulness and thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18); authentic love (1 Corinthians 13).
— Dr. Donna Sherwood
Bad News, Good News
Well versed in acceptable and unacceptable behavior, my sister’s grandson committed a definite no-no. Quickly looking around, he realized Nanny witnessed the dreadful deed. He said, “Now, Nanny, don’t you talk to me about Jesus!”
Isn’t that the way we adults often respond? We know what we should and shouldn’t do. We’ve heard it often enough. We’ve experienced the consequences of past poor choices, yet, as Paul says in Romans 7:18, we find ourselves repeatedly drawn to the forbidden.
We know when we mess up. However, we don’t like to face the reality of our misdeeds, particularly from those who witness them. We’re guilty, but we don’t want to hear about it.
Still, we must face our sins and repent of them in order to experience God’s plan for our lives. The bad news: We can never live as we should on our own. The good news: If we know Jesus as our personal Savior, we have God’s Holy Spirit to guide and live through us. Only then can we make the right choices. And we will no longer worry about who witnesses our actions.
As Paul acknowledged, our struggle against temptation will continue as long as we live on this earth. However, we can join him as he declared in Romans 7:25, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (NIV).
— Diana C. Derringer