Appalachian Connection

 

LET THERE BE LIGHT!

 

David W. Dillon

Superintendent, Appalachian District

© 2012

  

I’m willing to guess that your thoughts immediately went to the Creation story of Genesis when you read these words. While that’s certainly understandable for anyone who knows their Bible, it’s an unintended consequence of what I want to share.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about light. Perhaps on some subconscious level I’ve been influenced by all the lights of the annual Christmas season. Everywhere you look during the month of December there are lights. We decorate the inside of our homes with them and the outside too. The streets of our cities and towns are lit as well. And how can a believer not think about the light that emanated from the Star of Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago, illuminating the way for shepherds and wise men to come and worship the incarnate Christ child?

John said it so powerfully in his gospel, “In him (Christ) was life, and that life was the light of men,” (1:4). Jesus is light! John went on to say in his first letter that “God is light (1 John 1:5) and that if we (believers) walk in the light as he (God) is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1:7). Wow! And as if that weren’t enough, Jesus himself made it very clear that those who believe in him are to be light to this world (Matt. 5:14). Obviously, God’s kingdom is all about light. 

On the contrary, a quick check of a concordance or search of a computer Bible reveals that darkness, in its representation of sin and those things which separate people from God, is the antithesis of light. Jesus in the Gospels, Paul, Peter and John in their writings, all of these make very clear that anyone not in relationship with God—in the light—is in the dark. I love Paul’s admonition to believers in Ephesians 5:8: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light!” (Any questions?)

Satan does his best work under cover of darkness and behind the cloak of secrecy. Anything in our lives or ministries that has even a whiff of inconsistency with the teachings of scripture or our conscience needs to be brought out of the darkness and into the light of God’s love, grace and mercy (1 Thes. 5:22). We should have nothing to do with a spirit of division or disunity that speaks only in whispered tones and can only be shared with a select few (Eph. 5:11). If something has a dark or secret nature or such elements, then it’s most likely something we need to avoid, as a follower of Christ first and foremost, but even more so as a minister. 

“Dave, are you trying to discourage us?” some might ask. No way! I’m only trying to do what Paul did in Ephesians 4 and 5. Allow me to paraphrase some of his thoughts from these chapters: 

"With the Lord’s authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do. Their closed minds are full of darkness. They don’t care anymore about right and wrong. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed. But that isn’t what you were taught when you learned about Christ. Since you have heard all about him and learned the truth that is in Jesus, throw off your evil nature, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness—righteous, holy and true.

 

So put away all falsehood. Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil. Use your hands for honest work and give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

 

Don’t bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ.

 

Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ or God. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him.

 

Don’t participate in the things these people do. For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it! For this light within you only produces what is good and right and true,” (Eph.4:17-5:9).

What’s all this mean to you and me—God’s people? We must walk in the light of integrity and Christian character in a world that is increasingly devoid of both. We must let our lights shine, not for our glory or credit, but for the One who has called us and whom we serve (Matt. 5:16). LET THERE BE LIGHT!

 

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