Let Your Light Shine

Candle Light Matthew 5:16

Today is both Sunday and Christmas Eve. At church this morning, we had “candle lights” at Wyatt Baptist Church while we sang. This wasn’t a Candlelight Communion service but just something that was for whatever reason part of the singing during church. But the candle lights were these modern battery-powered lights instead of real candles. Now don’t take my comments below as anything against battery-powered candles, Wyatt Baptist Church, or anyone. I’m not bashing anything about the service or the lights here. These are just some of my thoughts on things that I see in the world around us.

But As the service went on, I was thinking about all of the lights around the sanctuary. It was beautiful with all of the lights spread around the room. But among other things, I watched as the little girl in front of me drew circles on her leg and her arm with the flickering battery-powered “candle”. She even had it in her mouth a time or two. My ADHD got to me a little and I fidgeted with mine a little too as I’m sure most people did.

But as I remember back to my childhood of candlelight communions, I can remember thinking about being scared of accidentally catching someone’s hair on fire. I mean the big hair days of the 1980s required a lot of hair spray after all. Or thoughts of wax accidentally dripping on my hand. I don’t remember anything like that ever happening, but I do remember a little candle wax falling on a pew or the carpet.

Brother Sam Shepperson was my pastor growing up. He would always conduct a candlelight communion service with a short sermon and the passing of the cup and the bread. At the close of the service. He would say.

The lord said to us “I am the light of the world” and thus You are the light of the world. How wonderful then that we can have the light of God living inside of us and then we can reach out to our friends and family neighbors and the people with whom we work that we may let our light so shine before men and that they may see our good works and glorify our father which is in heaven. ( Mathew 5:16)

Bro. Sam would then light his candle and use it to light the candles of each of the deacons and elders in the church. These men would then go to various places in the church to light someone else’s candle. Each person would then light another’s candle off of theirs. As this progressed, the room would quickly begin to fill with light. As the room filled he would say “Lift up your lights. Turn around and look at the difference it makes in the room, the neighborhood, and in our city when we let our light shine.”

And it was. It was a beautiful image of how the light of each person’s candle would spread from one to another and fill the room with light. That’s how we as Christians are to live. We are called to be the salt and the light in a dark world.

But now the contrast between these real candles and these modern battery-powered harmless candles strikes a thought to ponder in my mind in light of modern-day church culture. There is a healthy fear of the real candlelight. It’s a real fire worthy of respect. Provers 9:10 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” No one is going to put a real candle in their mouth as the little girl did this morning. Well, a sane person anyway. I think even a little child would not put a real candle in their mouth. There is an innate sense of fear and respect for fire.

People certainly wouldn’t fiddle with their candles in the way I found myself doing this morning. Real fire will burn. If you have the light, you can’t just hide it’s light in your hands either. You’ll get burned. The old song This Little Light of Mine came to mind this morning as well. “I’m gonna let it shine.” We’re not gonna hide it under a bushel basket. No. We’re gonna let it shine.

I think what I’m getting at is that there should be a healthy fear and respect for the light of the Gospel of Jesus which is the light. I think this fear and respect for the Lord is what I find missing in the world around us and sadly even in modern church culture.

The modern world believes in the 11th commandment as Voddie Baucham puts it, “thou shalt be nice”, but none of the real ten commandments. If we are to be the light as he is the light then we also have to be holy as he is holy. That requires sanctification by the work of the Holy Spirit. That process is often a little painful to go through. It means that because we respect him we must stand out from the darkness by burning up the worldly flesh that so easily ensnares us. It means that we will not be liked by everyone because we don’t find joy in darkness but live in the truth that the light brings into clarity.

That light focuses not on what makes us feel good, but what brings honor to him who called us and set us apart. That light is the shining star of Bethlehem. Born of a virgin, he lived a spotless sinless life, was hated by the world, and crucified. His own people did not accept him but he suffered death on a cross and rose again for the sins of his lost children. He calls us to repentance for the wicked that we do and his light makes our failures known to us. So that we can cleanse ourselves of all unrighteousness through his blood shed for us. This is the gift of Christmas.

But we miss the meaning of Christmas when we make it all about us. Jesus’ birth is not about us. God sent his only son, not just to die for a lost people, but to save those he loved from himself and for his glory. God sent Jesus to suffer as a man the death that we deserve because he knows that we can’t survive his wrath. He bled and died in our stead for his glory. His eternal plan of salvation is not because we deserve it as if it were a pacifier to live as we please. We can’t stick its light in our mouths and fiddle with it as if it were some mere toy for our amusement. The Light of the world is worthy of all fear and respect. It’s all for his glory that we let our light shine before men to bring him honor.

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