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How Bright Is Your Light?

On a street corner a small boy held a mirror in his hand, reflecting the sunlight toward a house and centering the bright spot on a second story window. A man passing by asked the boy, "Young man, what are you doing?" The boy answered, "My brother is sick in that house and can't come outside. Since he can't come out and play in the sunshine, I'm trying to reflect a little of it in there with this mirror." Beautiful! The familiar words of Jesus Matthew 5:14-16 assign to Christians a similar task - You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be 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. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Jesus couldn't be any clearer—authentic followers of His will exert a powerful and wholesome effect on a world clouded and darkened by sin and ignorance of God. The difference between Christians and the world should be a stark one — as different and distinctive as darkness is from the light! True followers of Jesus don't just sit and sulk about how dark things are getting. Rather, they seek to penetrate and overcome the dark by being the light of the world. The darkest night cannot overcome or put out the light of a single candle. On the contrary, the darker the darkness, the greater the contrast between it and the light, so long as light is allowed to shine. Shine the light, and darkness has to go! Modem Christians need to remember the powerful words of Philippians 2:14-15 — "Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." Our ancient brothers and sisters were surrounded by a culture that was into low-living. Students of the New Testament know the first century world was under a moral and spiritual darkness that resulted in all kinds of sinful and immoral practices (e.g. Romans 1:18-32), many of which are prevalent and popular in our own culture. But early Christians didn't sit and moan, "Look what the world is coming to." Instead, their relentless theme was, "Look Who has come to the world!" They believed Jesus was the true light which gives light to every man who comes into the world" (John 1:9),  and that by following Him they would "not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12). 

Bette Midler captured the predominant attitude of our age — "I have my standards. They may be low, but I have them." Christians are called to live by higher spiritual and moral standards than the world at large. The words of Ephesians 5:8-11 sum it up — For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is all goodness, righteousness, and truth), proving what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them." As Christians, we don't need to "toot our own horn" to stand out of the crowd. All we need to do is "let our light shine" by truly following Jesus. The issue facing the church is not simply how dark the world is getting. We must also ask how bright is our light shining. How bright is your light?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ