-ENLIGHTENED By Christ
In the Biblical sense, “light” means something more like “enlightenment” than simply “daylight.” As God’s people, Christians are able to bring into their community a God-centered, biblically-enlightened viewpoint. The dictionary says that an enlightened person is someone “factually well-informed, tolerant of alternative opinions, and guided by rational thought.” To this definition I would add that an enlightened Christian is not only factually well-informed and tolerant of alternative opinions, but also guided by the Holy Spirit to carefully apply the truth of God’s Word to the issues of today’s world. While the dictionary defines “daylight” as “light from the sun”, the “enlightened” Christian would define it as “light from the Son”! Why? Because God’s Son, Jesus, said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12 NIV). The words “light” in this verse are from the Greek word phos, which refers to light that meets the eye and light that reaches the mind.
Because Christians have something that non-Christians don’t have, a community without Christians misses the presence of God-enlightened understanding. We who claim Christ as our Savior should pass on the Creator’s light to the world – a “light” that pierces this gloomy world’s darkness. That’s how we present Jesus to the world. He told his followers, “You are the light of the world … Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:14,16).
Light is for seeing. Christians must not be socially segregated from the rest of the world, as we so often are. Wherever we find ourselves, our light should be both visible and audible. Our actions should speak louder than our words! When our friends, neighbors and co-workers see God’s light working within us they will be touched by Jesus Christ Himself. The Bible has many examples that show us how a person with God’s enlightenment helped things turn out for the better.
Seeing God’s Protection
In 2 Kings, Elisha, “the man of God,” was the target for a “strong force” of Aramaean soldiers. His home town was surrounded one night and his servant was terrified at what he saw with his own eyes: “An army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city.” He asked fearfully, “What shall we do?” Elisha replied, “Don’t be afraid … Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then he prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see,” and his servant saw “the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Ki. 6:8-23).
We would feel much better if we realized the immense forces of God protecting us. Our visible enemies are surrounded by our invisible protectors. God only permits those things to reach us that he knows are for our good, for our spiritual development and maturity. In our personal, family, church and community lives remember that there is nothing and no one who is bigger than our God.
Holding The Savior
In Luke 2:21-40, two elderly people, Simeon and Anna, displayed God’s enlightened viewpoint on world events. Both of them were “waiting” in Jerusalem’s temple for the Messiah to be born. When Joseph and Mary presented their baby Jesus for his eighth-day circumcision, Simeon and Anna both worshiped God for His gift of the baby born to be Savior for the world. Amidst the clatter and chatter of temple business, and crowds busy with their religious activities, these two senior citizens were “moved by the Spirit” and “gave thanks to God” for the child, and for all that God purposed to accomplish through Him.
Not everyone has the light of the world. The Bible implies that only those who accept the Lordship of Christ over their lives have God’s light to influence everything they do. Thank God for faithful old folks like Simeon and Anna who waited for and then eventually saw and held the Savior. They both told others around them what was coming because of this child. Their enlightened view influenced others. We should pray that our light will influence others as well.
Experiencing God’s Provision
In Matthew 14, Jesus was teaching and healing crowds of people. His disciples were concerned that the people should eat before everything closed up for the day. They urged Jesus to stop and to send the crowd away. But Jesus said, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” The enlightened view sees things work out so that one young lad’s picnic lunch of five loaves and two fish was enough to feed thousands of people! That lunch, given trustingly to Jesus, was more than enough.
Immediately following this, Jesus’ disciples were in a severe storm as they crossed the Sea of Galilee. It was dark and they were well away from shore. The disciples saw someone (Jesus) walking towards them on the water. They were terrified! Then Jesus told them to take courage and not be afraid. Peter, in a wonderful mixture of doubt and faith said, “Lord, if it’s You … tell me to come to You on the water.” Jesus said, “Come” – and Peter did!
Jesus had to rescue Peter when his faith began to waver. I am criticizing Peter; I would not have gotten out of the boat at all! I am challenged by Jesus today in other ways. Am I seeing my faith stretched? Is my Savior proving Himself to me more and more each day? (Mt. 14:13-21, 22-36). I look at these recorded events as in a mirror. Am I living as His light in the world? Do I reflect God where I walk, where I work and where I live? Am I an influence for God and for good in the darkness?
Seeing Answered Prayer
After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the young Christian church started to grow. In Acts 12:1-19 we read that King Herod was so threatened by these followers of Jesus that he arrested some of their leaders, executing James and intending to do the same to Peter: “But the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (12:5). Whether these Christians really expected God to release Peter from his fate we do not know. The Bible does say that the group praying at the home of Mary (John Mark’s mother) did not believe their ears nor their eyes when Peter stood knocking at the door during the night before his trial. They accused Rhoda, the servant girl who answered the door, as being “out of your mind.” But it was Peter! And “they were astonished” (12:15-16).
Sometimes having the light of God within us challenges our faith. God wants us to take just one step further. He surprises us with what He can do. In this case even Peter, while being let out of prison by an angel, did not realize it was anything other than a dream. Knowing the Light of the world does not mean we know everything about Him and His ways. We never reach the stage of being able to say, “I’ve learned all there is to know about Him!”
Being Saved To Shine
Finally, in Acts 27 we learn from Paul, another early Church servant who was taken captive and placed under guard on a ship headed for Rome. Caught in a hurricane-force wind, it was driven off course for days. After two weeks they realized they were drifting helplessly towards land. It is interesting that the crew “prayed for daylight.” It was not the light of day they needed – it was the word from an enlightened man!
Paul said: “Not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me” (27:22-23). Paul affirmed his trust in God even though he realized that they had to suffer through a shattering shipwreck on a sandbar off the coast of Malta. Events happened exactly as Paul had forewarned. Because he knew the Light of the world he let shine the influence of Jesus to those around him. The Roman guards, the other passengers, the crew and the people of Malta who welcomed them so kindly, all saw evidence of Jesus Christ through the light, life and the teachings of Paul (Acts 27).
Let’s go back to our definition of a God-centered person: “An enlightened Christian is not only factually well-informed and tolerant of alternative opinions, but is also guided by the Holy Spirit to carefully apply the truth of God’s Word to the issues of today’s world.” Elisha, Simeon and Anna, Jesus’ disciples, Rhoda the servant girl, and Paul the prisoner all fit this definition.
His Light In Your Life
Now I ask myself a few questions, and invite you to do the same: Does the light of Jesus Christ emanate from my life? Are people influenced to accept Jesus as their Savior by living near me? Have I influenced my family members for Christ? Does my personal life offer an invitation to people of a different faith (or no faith at all) to consider the Savior? When I come to the end of life will it be said of me, “He followed Jesus Christ in every aspect of his life”? I hope so. And I have the same hope for you, because Peter tells us that we are part of “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
By Colin Salter
God’s Light In Jars Of Clay
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” — 2 Corinthians 4:6-7
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org
Amen! May Christ’s light shine in the darkness through those He called ‘the light of the world.’