(The Bible reference links are repeated at the end as a Bible study.)
There it was, the true light was then coming into the world, the genuine, perfect, steadfast light that illuminates every person.
IF you are like me, you start the New Year with a resolve to read the Bible and pray more, and to become a bit more like Jesus than I was last year.
The first disciples weren’t known as Methodist or C of E or anything like that. They were simply known as Followers of the Way which was shorthand for followers of Jesus – He had memorably said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
They were trying to follow the Way of Jesus, live out His values and grow in Him.
They hadn’t come up with any church politics or even the order of service they liked – at that point it was just working out how to live by the values that the Master had shown them, be His disciples without Him actually being there, and appealing for help to the Holy Spirit at every step.
Following the Way has to do with what John describes as “walking in the light”. Without thinking too hard, we can say that this is about love and truth, relating well and being real. Light is good. If we stray into darkness, we don’t know where we’re going and we want to get back in the light again as quickly as possible.
Living in a rural county renowned for its views of the stars, I know what dark feels like. You soon learn, never go out without a torch…!
Life can feel dark and confusing and unreal. What we do then is to reflect, not on how dark it is but on how light and illuminating the Saviour of the World is. Look for the light! We want to follow His Way, so we cross over from the the dark shadows to where He is.
Dishonesty and injustice creates dark shadows – and confusion. If we are caught up in it, even on the outside, it can seem overwhelming.
This from Isaiah 59:8-10 and it explains this feeling well.
There is no justice in their paths;
they have made their roads crooked;
and righteousness does not overtake us;
we hope for light, and behold, darkness,
and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
we grope like those who have no eyes.
However, the faith we have in Jesus gives us a different focus. He is our light (and our salvation Psalm 27:1) as we look into the light, where all is exposed.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
There’s darkness and confusion which conceals all kinds of motives away from the light (Isaiah 59:9) but in the light we find ‘transparency’, in our contemporary language, and ‘fellowship’ in the Bible’s language (1 John 1:7). What does looking into the light mean?
It is about focusing on
- what is true, not untrue
- what is loving and not what is harsh
- what is just rather than what is convenient.
As we look to Jesus, it’s like moving to the side of the person with the torch on a dark night – now we see in the beam and the shadows recede at its reach.
Jesus is the true light [alethinos phos], literally the light that cannot lie. His light reveals where we are and where the path is. It also shows up what is broken, what is an obstruction, what is lying in the way to trip us up and the stuff which needs to be cleared away.
For us, it is small steps, minor shifts of emphasis. Our righteous attitudes and small actions actually usher in the presence of God. Think of someone you know who is a person of peace. That’s why. As we uphold love, truth and peace in our little way, so we make a connection with heaven and invite a better climate of God’s presence. Heaven and earth are not as separated as we may think.
We always have the choice to step a bit closer to Jesus, the light of the world. Clarity is found around His presence – and as we are in Him, as we have His Holy Spirit in us, so truly we become little light-bearers.
May you be blessed this year to walk a good walk with Jesus – and so be a blessing of the Light of Jesus to all around you, confronting the world’s darkness and confusion with His light and love wherever you are.
BIBLE STUDY AND DISCUSSION…
…or personal reflection.
- We often encounter injustice and see God’s way disrupted. What do is the general result of this, which may affect us? What can we do for ourselves? Isaiah 59:9 Psalm 27:1 What is our commanded priority? Does it depend on how other people are towards us? John 15:12 and 17 Romans 12:10 John 13:34–35
- If we carry resentments and unforgiveness, what is the effect on us? What should we do, that benefits us first and foremost? 1 John 2:9–10, 1 John 1:7
- As followers of the Way, seeking to walk in the light, what is in us which makes a difference to the world around us? Matt. 5:14 Luke 8:16–17, Ephesians 5:8–13
More generally: Light, in Scripture, can mean various things. What, practically, does it mean for us to walk in the light, and to be ‘light’ ourselves?