One of my absolute favorite things to do this time of year is drive around looking at Christmas lights. It started when I was a little girl, and every year Mom and Dad would bundle us up, pick up my great-grandmother, and drive all over our valley looking at lights.
The night always ended with French fries and milkshakes. Years later, we still carry on this tradition. Each year we drive around our favorite towns, oohing and ah-hing over each display. Then we splurge on French fries and milkshakes even though it’s usually way too cold for ice cream. In addition to our annual tradition, we usually visit at least two drive-thru displays a year. One November, we even drove to Virginia Beach to look at the lights on the boardwalk! So, yeah, I really love Christmas lights.
Whether they are white or colored, filling an inflatable or hanging from a roof, there’s something about the way that the warm lights burst through the dark night that makes me feel warm all over. This year, the beautiful Christmas lights remind me of Jesus words to us in Matthew 5:14:
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
Just as a house covered in Christmas lights stands out in the dark winter night, as Christians, we are supposed to stand out from the world around us. We are to shine, giving hope, joy, peace, and spreading the Gospel to the dark world around us.
Let’s be honest. In 2020, it’s not hard to see that the world is full of darkness. So many are struggling with fear, anxiety, hatred, and anger. The grips of sin are strangling too many people’s lives. As He said told the disciples, Jesus calls each of us today to shine the light of His love, His hope, and His truth into the darkness.
One problem that we face today, is that too many Christians are blending in with the darkness rather than shining like a beam in a dark world. They allow darkness to control their lives rather than penetrating it. How can we keep this from happening in our lives so that we can be a light in the world?
1. Stop letting sin block your light.
Do you want to be a light in a dark world? Stop being controlled by darkness.
Stop allowing sin to control your life.
One of the reasons that some Christians aren’t shining as bright as they should be is because they are choosing to walk in darkness by excusing sin in their own lives. When we choose to walk in disobedience to God’s Word and habitually allow sin a place in our lives, we cover our own light. The first step in truly shining God’s light into the world is to remove sin from our own lives and start walking in the light of truth.
2. We need to remove the dimmer switch of compromise.
It’s not always easy to shine the light of Jesus into a dark world because people don’t always want to see or hear the truth. While there are some who will see the light of the Gospel like a lighthouse in a stormy sea, there are others who are offended by it. These people may pressure us to put a dimmer on our lights—soften our message.
This is one of the biggest challenges facing the church today. Many people, both inside and outside of the church, want to “dim the light” of God’s truth. They want us to compromise for the sake of tolerance and unity. They want to take the easier road of simply “blending in” rather than standing out like a light.
However, taking this path would be in direct opposition to Jesus’ teaching when He said, “Don’t put your lamp under a bushel.”
Don’t water down the Gospel. Don’t compromise just because it’s easier. Instead, whatever it takes, as Christians, we need to be committed to letting God’s truth shine through us. If it offends people, so be it. The Gospel has always been offensive to some. However, that same light that offends some is a rescue boat to others. No matter where we are or who we are with, we are called to be light in a dark world.
3. We need to be known for good deeds.
While the truth of God’s Word and the Gospel may offend some people, we, as believers, must do our best not to be personally offensive.
What does that mean?
We need to be good people known for good deeds who represent Christ well.
I think Peter said it best in 1 Peter 3:15-16,
“If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.
But do this in a gentle and respectful way.
Keep your conscience clear.
Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.”
As Zig Zigler said, “We need to live our lives in a way that if someone said something bad about you, no one would believe it.”
As Christians, we should be known for our kindness to other people. This includes everything from basic politeness and human decency to being there for everyone who needs help.
We are a light in a dark world:
—When we are friendly and kind.
—When we befriend the lonely or strike up a conversation with a stranger.
—When people can count on us to help in a time of need.
—When we are generous.
—When we are unselfish and put others before ourselves.
—When we turn the other cheek when someone hurts us or do good to our enemies.
—When our speech and actions are filled with grace, humility, kindness, and love.
All of these things are counter-cultural. They stand out like a beam of light in a very dark world.
They give us an opportunity to share the Gospel when people ask, “Why are you so different?”
Because ultimately, that’s what makes light so powerful: it’s different than darkness.
When we choose to participate in darkness or dim our light to blend in with the darkness, we aren’t doing our job as a light. However, when we get serious about removing sin from our own lives and choose to conduct ourselves as genuine followers of Christ who live differently, we are fulfilling our calling to be a light in a dark world.
This Christmas, I encourage you: be a light.
In your family, at your job, in your community, even in your church, be who you were created to be.
Take whatever steps are necessary to be a light in a dark world and shine bright for Jesus.
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.