Have you ever considered how much the world has changed in the last century? Think about the scientific advancements that have made life more convenient and comfortable. We have access to quality healthcare, which was unimaginable throughout most of human history. Information is available instantly, and we can cross an ocean in a few hours by plane. The list of human accomplishments seems endless. And yet not one of those achievements has been able to dispel the spiritual darkness that filled the world when sin entered through Adam and Eve.
God alone is the source of light.
The only one who can break through this darkness is God—the source of all light. He’s the one who created the sun, moon, and stars. And since He is holy and dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16), all spiritual understanding originates from Him as well. Even though He shines all around us, only those who have had their eyes opened can see the full revelation of spiritual truth.
Illumined by God
Moments of divine light in Scripture
After separating the heavens and the earth, God created light (Gen. 1:3-4). The sun and stars, however, were not created until the fourth day (Gen. 1:14-19), which means light is divine in origin.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, “the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with [God],” and the people of Israel were afraid (Ex. 34:29-30).
During the dedication of the temple, “the glory of the Lord filled the house” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).
As Jesus prayed on the mountain, James, John, and Peter beheld His glory in a moment of transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36).
On the road to Damascus, “a light from heaven” flashed around Paul, blinding him for three days (Acts 9:3-9).
In Revelation 22, John says in the new heaven and earth “there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them” (Revelation 22:5).
Out of all the nations in this dark world, God chose to reveal Himself to one little group of people called Israel. Yet the nation as a whole eventually drifted into the shadow of legalism. In fact, for 400 years there was no prophet or revelation from the Lord. During the Roman empire all this changed, as predicted by the prophet Isaiah, who said, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light” (Isa. 9:2). It began when an angel appeared to an old priest named Zacharias as he was offering incense in the temple. The angel told him that he would have a son named John, who would be the forerunner of the coming Messiah (Luke 1:5-17).
A few months later the same angel appeared to a virgin named Mary, announcing that she would be the mother of Israel’s Messiah (Luke 1:26-35). In the fullness of time, Christ—the Light—entered the spiritual darkness of the world: God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, to dwell among us (Gal. 4:4; John 1:14). Yet those who lived in spiritual darkness didn’t comprehend who He was or what He’d come to do (John 1:5). Spiritual darkness is like blindness. But the problem is inside us, not outside. What we need is new eyes, and that’s exactly what Jesus came to provide. Although He healed many physically blind people, the real miracle is His opening the eyes of the spiritually blind.
At one point in His ministry, Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). What all the world’s empires could not accomplish, God did by providing the revelation of truth, which can lead everyone out of sin and into forgiveness and salvation.
Christ transfers us from darkness to light.
All who receive Jesus Christ as Savior are rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred to His kingdom of Light (Col. 1:13). It’s as if we are lit up on the inside. His steady stream of light is now the place in which we live and grow in Christlikeness and increasingly understand God’s Word and His ways. Things we could not grasp before begin to make sense.
Now our responsibility is to walk as children of Light by learning what pleases the Lord and displaying the spiritual fruit of goodness, righteousness, and truth (Eph. 5:8-10). God supplies everything we need in order to stay on course, and His Word is a lamp to guide us as we walk His path (Psalm 119:105). In it we find His principles, commands, and promises to lead us along the way of obedience and guard us from falling into the darkness of sin.
You are the light of the world.
While Jesus walked this earth, He was the Light of the world. And in the Sermon on the Mount, He said to His disciples, “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). We are not the source of light; Christ is. But as believers, we have His presence dwelling within us through His Holy Spirit. We are merely the beacons through which He shines into this dark world. However, we must make sure that the windows of our lanterns are clean, or no one will be able to see Christ displayed in us. Sin is like soot that clouds a lantern, making its light dim and ineffective.
Jesus also commands us not to hide our light but to let it shine in such a way that people will see our good works and glorify God (Matt. 5:15-16). The goal isn’t to gain their praise. People should be drawn to the light—not the lanterns. We are simply the vessels through which a transformed life is seen and the truth of God is heard by those who walk in darkness. The people with whom we live and work should be able to observe a difference in us because of the way we live, think, and act. They should see that Christ is our Lord and that we live for Him, not for our own selfish pleasures and pursuits. Our character ought to reflect His love, patience, kindness, and gentleness.
Perhaps you live or work in a very dark place and feel as if your little light is insignificant in the face of it. But in reality, a tiny bit of brightness can drive away the shadows. Instead of becoming discouraged, ask Jesus to shine even more brightly through you for the sake of those who are lost and wandering around in hopelessness.
As God’s children, we are called to proclaim the greatness of the One who brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Although we have no power to give spiritual sight, we can each shine forth the truth of the gospel with our words and lifestyles and pray that God, in His mercy, will open blinded eyes to the truth.
From a limited human perspective, we can’t see the dramatic shift that took place in us at salvation. Perhaps the closest analogy is the story of the man born blind, who was given sight by Jesus (John 9). A whole new world opened up to him, just as it did for us when we became God’s.
Think about the characteristics of children of Light, as recorded in Ephesians 5:1-17.
Could these describe you?
Are there any practices of darkness that need to be exposed to the Light so they will lose their grip on you?
Do you think of yourself as a light to the world? It sounds like a very big task, but it’s really just a matter of letting Christ shine brightly in your words, attitudes, and actions so that others will be drawn to Him.
Has anyone ever mentioned that you seem to be different from other people? How might you shift the conversation to Christ so that He will get the glory?
Have you become discouraged because those around you have no interest in Jesus? What insight and encouragement do you find in John 3:19-21?
Heavenly Father, thank You for rescuing me from the darkness and bringing me into the kingdom of Your beloved Son. Help me live as a child of Light, pleasing You in all respects. Use me to be a beacon in this dark world so others may be drawn to You. Give them spiritual sight to see the truth of the gospel and be saved. Amen.
- John 1:5-7
- John 12:44-46
- Ephesians 5:8-10
- 1 Peter 2:9
Being a light to the world may seem like an impossible challenge. However, the Lord always supplies the resources you need in order to obey Him. And we have a great resource at our fingertips—God’s Word. As you read Scripture, ask Him to make Psalm 119:130 a reality in your life: “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” The more His Word transforms you into Christ’s image, the more brightly you will shine.
Being a light isn’t something you strive to achieve, but something you pray to be. Ask the Lord to give you opportunities and courage to reflect Christ in word and deed so someone else can hear the gospel and escape the darkness. Then pray for that person to be brought into God’s glory so that Jesus will shine to others through his or her heart.
Photograph by Marina Weigl