I can’t help but notice as I travel and attend church that Christians shine more than heathens do. Compared to them, worldly folk are dullish around the eyes. It sounds conceited but it’s true: when you know Jesus loves you, you glow a bit whether you know it or not.
Jesus’ love changed lives instantly
Matthew (Chapter 5) tells us that a “great crowd” sat in the open air to hear Jesus’ first sermon (on the mount). This audience, coming from Galilee and Decapolis, Jerusalem and Judea were disadvantaged people. Today, we’d call them “depressed”. Oppressed by a ruthless political dictatorship, they also served under a repressive priesthood. Mere survival was difficult, spiritual fulfillment nigh on impossible. But Jesus was there to proclaim the solution. In fact, he personified the solution. He was the answer.
The very first words he preached were (NKJV) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In modern terms this means, “I’ve good news for those suffering depression; there’s a world of enjoyment in store for you.”
Upon hearing from Jesus, the multitude began to glow intensely with “supreme joy”, shining like a “city set upon a hill” (Matthew 5: 14), shining so brightly that He called them “the light of the world”. Christians now see Jesus as the light of the world but back then in his first speech, he said it about us.
Of course you might interpret this as Jesus telling us to make ourselves shine. But He said “Let” not “Get”, an observation as well as a directive. “Let your light so shine before men that they may…glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” They didn’t need to get lit up. They were already thrilled with His presence. He merely had to tell them what to do with their newfound, miraculous enthusiasm, how to remain aglow with love in a world gone dreary with apathy and sin.
So it was not just what Jesus said that first filled them all with holy fire. His visible presence was the spark that fired up the multitude. That huge crowd was shining with the same Presence that made the very skin on Moses’ face shine on his way down the mountain (Exodus 34:29), a radiance so intense that Moses had to wear a veil after encountering God. But Paul (2 Corinthians 3:14) tells us that the veil covering the Lord’s brilliance has been removed by Jesus.
Jesus knows each individual heart and soul. And such is the miracle of His presence that we all know that He knows what He knows. He discerns our character, our secrets, motives and passions…our sins. Most importantly, we are aware, somehow, that this amazing Person with the authority of God loves each one of us unfailingly, individually, despite our flaws. This is the unique, personalised, undeserved, comprehensive love of God. Jesus simply looks and loves from the start. No wonder that crowd of depressed Jews began to shine. I glow inside just thinking about it.
What could be more significant! Shining with God’s light is more important than “personality”, more striking than “looks”, even more valuable than intellect. Other attractions have big downsides. Fame, success, political power, celebrity status, physical beauty, financial wealth – are not what they’re cracked up to be. Ask the famous: fame is usually toxic and often fatal. Prominent philosopher William James called worldly success a “bitch goddess”.1)“The moral flabbiness born of the exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That – with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word ‘success’ – is our national disease.” –William (How the rich and mighty have fallen lately, striving for big bucks destroying their souls!) Political power corrupts.2)“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Lord Acton (1834–1902) from a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887. Celebrity requires “security”. Mere physical beauty causes gawking and stalking. Even too much renown can be annoying. At their best all such worldly attributes pale compared to glowing with God. Seek the kingdom of God and you will shine with His light. Let God and let glow and the other blessings and benefits will be added.
Godly shining does NOT entail becoming the centre of attention. Shining draws attention to the Source which is Jesus. The light comes from Him. You can’t make it happen. The so called “beautiful people” fake it and try to make it but they don’t shine, they just glitter – not the same thing. Politicians don’t shine either – they exert a pull, obligate, draw attention to themselves. I’ll tell you a secret, something I’ve observed all my adult life because I’m 6’8” in height. Politicians resent tall people. They’re afraid of appearing short. When you know you’re loved unconditionally by the God who created you in His image, physical stature doesn’t mean a thing. When we meet the Lord in the air, we’ll get new bodies anyway. Then we’ll shine all the more. So get used to it: let your light shine now.
The golden role
Do you really know how much you are loved? (1 John 4:10) There is only one thing more important than the fact that God loves you. What could it be? Well, it is the fact that He loves me. Repeat after me and you’ll see what I mean. First you say, “God loves you and so do I.” Then say, “God loves me and so do you.” Get the point? No comparison! When I am absolutely certain that God adores me, I can’t help but shine.
See others shine
I pray for eyes to see how God shines in others. I ask the Lord to help me stay out of the limelight so I can focus on you. Let me see how Jesus lights up your life.
Jesus (Matthew 6:22) says “the eye is the lamp of the body”. I believe His eyes shone with divine light. Then Matthew 6:23 says that if my eye is unsound my whole body will be dark. If my eye can’t shine, I am doomed to dullness. You help me get the plank out of my eye and I’ll help you get the speck out of yours (Luke 6:41-42, Matthew 7:3-5). We need each other. That’s God’s great plan. Together we can light up the world.
How to keep shining
Ephesians 5: 8-20 tells me: I was once in the dark but now I shine with the Lord’s light. So I should live transparently like children of light, for God’s light generates goodness, righteousness and truth. Learn to please the Lord. Avoid trashy dark stuff. Expose it to the Light. Although it’s a shame even to mention that hidden junk, still when exposed to God’s light, it gets seen for the rubbish it is.
The saying goes, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”(Ephesians 5:14) Don’t be a fool. Be wise and make the most of opportunities. These are evil times, so don’t remain ignorant. Try to understand the Lord’s will.
A traditional African-American chorus says,
Walk in the light, beautiful light.
Come where the dew drops of mercy shine bright
They shine all around us by day and by night
Jesus the light of the world
Jesus the light of the world
Now you are shining. I mean how bright can you get?
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||“The moral flabbiness born of the exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That – with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word ‘success’ – is our national disease.” –William|
|2.||↑||“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Lord Acton (1834–1902) from a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887.|