Published March 25, 2014

Paul's Epistle...

Scripture uses an interesting metaphor for the influence a Christian is to have on the world around him or her. We are to be shining lights in a world of darkness. Jesus put it this way: "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).

As the world around us grows increasingly "dark" – as the world's standards of morality slide farther and farther away from God's standards – the need for us to "shine" – to have a positive, Christ-centered impact on the world – has never been greater.

A current song sung by Zane and Donna King addresses this issue. It's called "Shine"* (and it's been doing very well recently on radio). Donna co-wrote the song, and tells this story about how the song developed:

"My co-writer on this song, Rachel Morgan Perry ... was over one day, and the next day we had a songwriting appointment with each other. I had really felt impressed to write about the Light of Jesus and about shining, so I told her about that. I said, ‘Go home and think about that.'...

"So she comes bouncing in here the next day and, lo and behold, her [previously scheduled] devotional that very morning was about shining the light of Jesus. And the focus verse was Matthew 5:16 ... And, I'll tell you, for us to know that we were gonna write about shining and for God to give us that boost of encouragement through that devotion – we just cried tears of joy, rejoicing, really. And then we just dug in and wrote this song...."

But the song makes clear that "shining" our light as a Christian isn't always easy:

      Here we are in the world
      Here we are in the darkness.
      We forget there's a God
      And we feel so hopeless.
      But there's a reason for every season
      And there's a time to let our light
      Shine, Shine, Shine....

Too many Christians today feel overwhelmed by the spiritual darkness around us. Yes, it can be overwhelming. And it can, in fact, lead to a sense of hopelessness. But, as the song says, this is the very time when we must let our light shine as Christians.

      Shine when you can't find a candle
      When things get too hard to handle
      Just shine anyway...
      Shine when your plans start to crumble
      When your dreams are lost in the rubble of life
      Just shine anyway...

The world is watching. Just how do you handle those rough patches in life? Do you handle them as the world would — grumbling, complaining, blaming others? Or do you truly believe "there's a reason for every season?" Do you exhibit the light of Christ even through the most difficult times? He did.

      There He was in the dark
      Bringing light that could save us
      Facing death in the night
      What a gift that He gave us.
      Now there's no reason
      That we can't see Him
      ‘Cause every day
      He lights our way so we can
      Shine, Shine, Shine...

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12). If we truly follow Christ, he promises we will have the "light of life" that will give us hope through times of darkness. The prophet Isaiah, looking forward to the time of Christ, said, "Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you" (Isa 60:1).

As the song says, "You're the only light some people will ever see, so let your love shine brighter than the galaxy..." As I said, people are watching.

Now, I confess, some days I just don't feel much like "shining." (Some might say I don't seem very "bright," but that's an entirely different matter.)  But those days are most likely the very days when I need to shine most brightly. It's then that I'm reminded that this "shining" doesn't originate with me. As the moon shines simply by reflecting light from the sun, we, as Christians, are to shine by reflecting light from the Son. He's the Source. But we can either reflect His light ... or hide it. (See Matt. 5:15.)

Paul, writing to the Philippians, gives some practical advice on this: "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, holding fast the word of life..." (Phil. 2:14-16a).

The world's slide into darkness is ever-accelerating. We, as Christians, must resolve, more than ever before, to take a stand for Christ, His truth, His precepts and His Gospel – and to let that light shine boldly in the darkness, without equivocation, so that all the world can clearly see.

- Paul

*"Shine," by Donna King & Rachel Morgan Perry, Journey Press Music BMI, Blonde Hair Blue Eyes Music SESAC, Cut Out Hearts Music SESAC.  Lyrics used by permission.

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