The light beside him shown in brilliant colors, catching my attention from across the room with its ruby, topaz, amethyst, and opal hues. It illuminated its metal base, which shone softly in reflected light, highlighting its graceful lines. And it clearly fulfilled its main purpose of shining light on the Scriptures my husband was reading.
In stark contrast, the unlit lamp sat glumly unused, its most prominent feature being the gray soldering holding together the stained glass pieces, which also looked dull and drab without light transmitting through them.
Without being lit from above, the metal base appeared as rough, dark and shapeless as a tree stump. And it goes without saying that the unlit lamp served no useful purpose at the moment. In fact, from my vantage point in the neighboring easy chair, I could see dust collecting on its surface.
The lit lamp cast a shadow behind it, highlighting the contrast between light and darkness, while the unlit lamp blended right in with its surroundings. The two lamps reminded me of the importance to the Christian life of letting the light of Jesus Christ shine through us. Once we are saved by placing our faith in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way (John 14:6) to Heaven, we are to become the light of the world (Matthew 5:14; Philippians 2:15), just as He is the Light of the world (John 1:9; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46).
Our pastor has recently been preaching on light-bearers in the Bible. God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, and His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). Born-again believers (John 3:3-8) are the light of the world, but we must be careful not to be deceived by Satan, who can transform himself into an angel of light, along with his false teachers (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).
Do we long for the gaudy, garish, neon lights of the world, like those in Times Square, with all their allure and false promise? It seems that the wisdom of the world prevails over the wisdom of God’s Word in worldly matters (Luke 16:8), and that evildoers love darkness and hate the light of Christ, for it points out their condemnation (John 3:19). Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers to the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, so that it cannot illuminate them unless they trust in Jesus as Lord (2 Corinthians 4:4).
But as believers, we must follow the light of God, and walk in the light (2 Corinthians 11:14), for we are the children of light (Luke 16:8). Are we fulfilling our destiny of being Christ’s light in this dark, doomed, wicked world? Our mission is to open the eyes of the unsaved through God’s plan of salvation, and to turn them from darkness to light (Acts 26:18).
If we yield to the Holy Spirit, He will elevate us to heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6), and then we can shine like the city set on a hill that cannot be hidden, or the candle lifted up on a candlestick to illuminate the entire house. Then His light can shine through us (John 1:9) for others to see through our good works, to God’s glory (Matthew 5:14-16).
If we follow the light of Christ, we will keep from stumbling (John 11:9), no longer live in darkness (John 8:12; 12:46), walk in the light of day (Isaiah 2:5; 1 John 1:7; Romans 13:13), and live in the light by loving one another (1 John 2:10), for we shall have the light of life (John 8:12). Just as a burning lamp creates contrast by casting a shadow, the world should be able to see the difference between the light of Christ shining through us, making us holy and beyond reproach, and the crookedness and perversity of the dark world through which we pass (Philippians 2:15).
Born-again believers (John 3:3-8) have the choice to be like one of the two lamps in my illustration. We can never lose our salvation (John 10:28-29; Romans 8:35-39), but we can grieve and quench the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19) by disobedience and indifference to God’s Word and His will for our life. In so doing we are like the unlit lamp – functional once illuminated, but serving no useful purpose while turned off.
When we walk in His Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25), we become like the wise virgins who kept their lamps filled with oil, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, and who were ready when the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, came for them unexpectedly at the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17), symbolized by the marriage feast (Matthew 25 1-13)
But those who have not accepted Christ are still vessels unfit for His use, for they cannot be filled with the oil of the Spirit until the light of the glorious gospel shines in their heart. While unsaved, they are like the foolish virgins who failed to fill their lamps with oil and who were shut out from the marriage feast when the Bridegroom returned, for He never knew them.
This parable (Matthew 25 1-13) makes it clear that it is not enough to keep company with those who are saved, whether through being born into a Christian family, traveling in Christian circles, or even regularly attending church and doing Christian service. We can only be the light of the world and be ready for Him to take us home if we have made our own personal decision to trust in the glorious Gospel light.
Then we can live forever in that glorious city that will not need the sun or moon, for the light of the Lamb of God Himself will shine in it to illuminate the saved nations (Revelation 21:23-24). May His light shine through us continually until He returns!