by David Phelps
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa
Earlier this summer, storms in the St. Louis area left half a million homes and businesses without electricity. Our home was without electricity for nearly five days. We lost power Wednesday evening and didn’t get it back until midday on Monday. One night we slept on the patio on chaise lounges because it was too hot in the house while our dog, Teri, patrolled the back yard around us. We had no television. Waahh! No microwave oven. Waahh! No refrigerator. Waahh! No air conditioning. Waahh! No computer. WAAAHHH! And no lights. We couldn’t read or even find our way around our house without a candle or flashlight.
The dark is also disturbing, not necessarily scary but mysterious. You never know quite what’s there in the dark. The night we slept on the patio, I don’t think our dog, Teri, slept a wink. She spent the night either pacing or gazing into the dark, alert for the slightest sound.
The Bible begins with light: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Gen. 1:3 NIV). It also ends with light: “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 22:5 NIV). Light is sometimes used to represent the nature of God (Psa. 27:1; Isa. 60:19-20). Jesus told the people “‘You are the light of the world.’” (Matt. 5:14a NIV). But he also said, “‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12b NIV).
Director Woody Allen once observed, “I'm afraid of the dark, and suspicious of the light.” In the same way, John wrote, “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:5 NIV). The darkness of the world, the darkness in human hearts, was suspicious of the light of God. The people feared the darkness but they feared the light more. Later, John wrote, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19 NIV).
The NIV says “the darkness has not understood” the light (John 1:5b). But other translations render it as “the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5b NRSV). The forces of darkness couldn’t understand the light so they tried to overcome it. They were threatened by the light of God “because their deeds were evil.” But God’s light, the light within us, cannot be overcome.
Jesus has given God’s light to all believers (John 12:46; 2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus called his followers “‘the people of the light.’” (Luke 16:8b NIV). Similarly, Paul urged the Ephesians to “Live as children of
light . . .”(Eph. 5:8b NIV). Peter told his readers to “. . . declarethe praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet. 2:9b NIV). Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Rom. 13:12b NIV).
John wrote, “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.” (1 John 2:10 NIV). We can show that we are “people of the light” by showing love to all persons in all circumstances. It isn’t always easy. A harsh word or spiteful act can often seem more appropriate, even toward a “brother” or sister. But we are called to “put aside the deeds of
darkness . . .”If we “let [our] light shine before men, that they may see [our] good deeds and praise [our] Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16b NIV), then others will know we don’t “walk in darkness” and that our profession of faith is genuine.
“In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” (John 1:4-9 NIV.)