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-Serving As Light And Love In The World

 
Picture Serving As Light And Love In The World
Jesus As Light In John 12:46 (NKJV) the Lord Jesus says, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” The Spirit of truth, writing to the Colossian believers, tells us that the Father has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col 1:13). In Ephesians 6:12 we are told that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” In Acts 26:18 Paul says that he was called by the Lord “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” The Spirit speaks yet again through the apostle Peter: “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). The foregoing Scripture quotations together portray the world in which we live as a place of gross spiritual darkness. Because it is spiritual wickedness it easily escapes the notice of those lacking spiritual perception or discernment. With respect to His purpose for coming into the world, Jesus says, “I have come as a light ... that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” (Jn. 12:46). He did not come to remove the darkness. He came to deliver men out of it. He is delivering those who put their trust in Him, from the domain of darkness; and He is transferring them “into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13).

This is what He came to do. So He says in John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” He came to penetrate the darkness with His light. Thus we read in Matthew 4:16 that “the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” These people saw the light and were delivered out of the darkness that enveloped them.

But Jesus was not going to remain in the world. When His work of redemption was accomplished He would go back to the Father. So in Matthew 5:14 He says to His disciples, “You are the light of the world.” Corporately, as a body, they would now be the light of the world instead of Him. The Church, therefore, the dwelling place of God on earth through the Spirit, now constitutes the light of the world.

Jesus Wants Us To Reflect His Light
But believers, individually, also have been commissioned to be lights in the darkness. Speaking through the apostle Paul, the Spirit says to the Christians at Philippi: “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14). Believers are thus enjoined to shine as lights in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation – to shine in the darkness.

But like our moon, believers do not have any light residing in them. Just as the moon can give off light only when it is being shined on by the sun, where light does reside, so a believer can shine only when he is being shined upon by the Light. The moon is an opaque body that merely reflects the light received from our sun, which is intrinsical ly luminescent. So the Christian is called to reflect the light he receives from the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom Light dwells intrinsically.

Since the moon cannot shine unless shined upon, if another body comes between it and its source of light, it will have no light to reflect. This happens in a lunar eclipse when the earth intervenes between the sun and the moon. So it is with the Christian. Sin can come between the believer and his source of light, the Son. When this happens the Christian has no light to reflect and is therefore eclipsed; he has no light to shine. In such a case, he blends in with the surrounding darkness and cannot be distinguished from it. He fails to fulfill the purpose to which and for which he has been called.

When the Christian loses his exposure to his source of light he blends into the darkness instead of being distinct from it. This is equivalent to the Christian’s losing his testimony as a result of his sin. He becomes part of the darkness which he has been commissioned to shine against. Just as a person sound asleep among dead bodies cannot be distinguished from the dead, so a Christian whose fellowship with Christ is interrupted by sin blends in with the darkness and loses his witness.

Ephesians 5:14 is directed to this condition. Here the sleeping Christian, who has allowed himself to become stymied by sin, is seen as a sleeper among the spiritually dead. Except by careful examination, he may not be distinguished from the dead around him. But because he is asleep and not really dead, he can be aroused. So we hear the injunction to such a believer: “Awake you who sleep, arise from among the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Eph. 5:14).

Jesus As The Vine
In order for us Christians to avoid this occurrence in our lives, we must keep short accounts with God. We must abide in Christ, as He commands in John 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” He is the vine and we are the branches. When there is no rift between the vine and its branches life-giving nutrients flow unhindered to the branches, producing expected fruit. Christians often think of the fruit they are to produce as converts to the faith through their instrumentality. This may or may not result directly, but whether it does or not those who abide in Christ inevitably produce fruit.

The basic fruit the Christian is charged with producing is the fruit of the Spirit which the Spirit produces in him. We are told explicitly in Galatians 5:22-23 what the fruit of the Spirit consists of: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control.

Although a total of nine attributes are enumerated, they are not called the fruits, plural, but the fruit, singular, of the Spirit. As I have meditated on this passage, I believe I have the Spirit’s mind when I say that love is the all-encompassing attribute of the Spirit’s fruit, and each of the eight additional attributes enumerated is simply an aspect of that love.

Jesus Wants Us To Bear His Fruit
I suggest, therefore, that joy might be thought of as love exulting; peace as love reclining; patience as love enduring; kindness as love caring; goodness as love worshiping; faithfulness as love trusting; meekness as love submitting; selfcontrol as love restraining. The believer who exhibits these characteristics sets forth the character of Christ, and this is a consequence of abiding in Him. When I as a believer abide in Him, His character is manifested in me. This result occurs because virtue flows from Him through me, producing His character, His image in me. I reflect His character and so give evidence that His transforming power is working in me. Thus we can see that shining as lights has to do with what we are more than with what we say or do.

Unfortunately, Christians often tend to misunderstand the nature of their calling, and focus on verbal witness. But unless what we say in the way of witness is validated by what we are in character and reputation, it amounts to nothing at all. When what we have to say flows out of a heart and soul that is bound up with Christ and led by the Spirit of God, then the sinner sees light that penetrates the darkness in which he dwells.

Now I do not mean to suggest that the witness we bear to the world precludes doing or speaking. On the contrary, what we do and say are the concrete expressions of what we are. One speaks and acts out of who one is. The Bible says, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Mt. 12:34).

To repeat, what we do or say must flow out of what we are; if not, it is worthless and really constitutes no witness at all. Can God use testimony or witness that is not validated by what we are? Indeed, He can! He does it all the time. The apostle Paul, writing to the Christians at Philippi says, “Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:15-18).

We cannot put any limits on God; He can extract something out of nothing as it may please Him. But in that case we miss the blessing of knowing it was with His stamp of approval upon us as vessels of honor, that God wrought a work through our instrumentality. What a privilege it is to be used by God to accomplish His work in the hearts of men! He does not need us to carry out His purposes; it is rather an expression of His gracious ways that He confers upon us the privilege of being workers together with Him (2 Cor. 6:1).

By Humphrey Duncanson

With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org

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