I love campfires. Sitting around a warm fire in the evening is my favorite part of camping.
I love the warmth of campfires. No matter how chilly the night, the heat radiated from the fire warms my bones. I love the way the flames dance. There’s something about looking into a campfire that is mesmerizing. I feel like I could stare at those flames for hours. But most of all, I love the light. Even if I am off in distant darkness, the light of a campfire draws me in, promising me safety and rest.
Darkness can be scary. Have you ever taken a cave tour? One part of every tour I’ve been on is when they turn out all the lights, and you experience complete darkness. The last time I experienced this was a Camp Windermere. The guide there strongly suggested we put a hand on the wall before we all turned off our helmet lights, because some people became quickly disoriented in the dark.
I could understand why, because the darkness is so complete. There’s nothing to look at to help orient yourself. When we finally turned our lights back on, it was with a measurable sense of relief.
Without Jesus, our lives would be like that cave with no light. We would be living in the dark, disoriented, lost, and confused. That’s why Jesus promises in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jesus went to the cross and experienced total darkness for us – the darkness of having His Father turn away from Him, and forsake Him – because on that cross Jesus was carrying our sin, our guilt, and our disgrace. He took the punishment for it all. And on the third day, in a brilliant explosion of light, Jesus rose from the dead and now shines into our lives with His love & forgiveness – and He invites us to follow Him.
Then Jesus says something to us that’s even more amazing. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
If you’re anything like me, then when I hear Jesus call me “the light of the world,” I feel real sorry for the world. Jesus’ light is like a supernovae, it’s brilliance scattering the darkness around us. But my light? When it shines at all, it’s more like a 2-day old glow stick. How about yours?
The encouragement I want to share with you today is that even the feeblest light can make a huge difference in someone’s life.
When I’m at the Springfield campus at night, and all the lights are off in the hallway on the south side of the sanctuary, it’s very dark. I can’t see the walls or get any sense of direction – except in one place. There is an emergency light at the west end of that hallway with a tiny red light on it that says it’s functional. You can’t even see that light in the daytime. But in the dark, that little red dot of light points me in the right direction and guides me as I walk. As long as I keep my eyes on that light, I can walk forward without fear
Friends, you can be that light to someone who’s stumbling in the darkness. Let them see Jesus in you. Don’t be ashamed of your light, and don’t hide it because it’s not as bright as someone else’s. Jesus will shine through you and give hope and encouragement to someone just when they need it most.
It’s time to get out there and shine – in Jesus’ Name. Amen