LED BY THE LIGHT
SHINING YOUR LIGHT

  by Pastor Martha-Jean Fitch
February 11, 2018
TEXT:   John 12:35-36, Ephesians 5:1-2

 

In invite the kids to come and join me up here at the front for a moment.

  
            I am sure that you all know the song “This Little Light of Mine.”   I want you to help me sing that song this morning.   While we sing it, I’m going to go over and turn on our lamps.

  

            Hm-m!   I can’t seem to get the lamps on.   I wonder what is wrong – why isn’t it coming on?   Oh, it is not plugged in!  Here, let me plug it in.   Oh dear – the lamps are still not turning on.   Wonder what has happened?   Oh, here is the problem, our lamps weren’t turned on.   Ok – let’s try it our song again:   “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine….”

 

               Jesus tells us that He is the light of the world and that when we ask Him to come and live inside of us – we are filled with His light through the Holy Spirit.   That is pretty amazing isn’t it?   We have the light of Jesus, right inside of us.   And as long as we keep plugged into Jesus – we can have His power and light – and we can let that light shine so everyone can see it.   But how do you stay plugged into Jesus?   Through praying, going to church and worshiping God, reading the Bible.   And we have to do that every day right – so we can stay charged up.   Then we can let “little light of mine shine”, right?

 

            There’s a second verse of our song we haven’t sung.   Do you remember it?   Don’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine.”  You know if we unplug our lamps – or don’t charge up some of our electronics like our phone or tablets?   They can start to loose their power, right?   In our lives – I think that is kinda of what we do when we let Satan or sin shut off the power source we have in Jesus.   We turn off the light – we don’t keep charged up – we aren’t open to the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

 

            For example, when I was your age, my whole family went to church.   I had two older brothers and when we’d get home from church, many times they would get into an argument or get mad at each other.   My mother would always say something like, “I don’t know what good it did for you all to go to church, if you just come home and start acting like that.”   They had plugged themselves into the power source of the Holy Spirit by going to Sunday School and worship, but when they got home – they had gotten unplugged from that power.   They weren’t letting Jesus shine, were they?   They were letting “Satan” blow it out, right?

 

            We all do that sometimes don’t we?   We plug and unplug our lights easily.   If we want to act like the cool kids at school, we just turn our lights off and act like the world.   Then when we feel like doing something for Jesus, we turn it back on again.   If people are talking badly about another person and putting them down – we unplug our lights and join in the gossip.   But if we reach out and help someone who is sad or lonely, we plug back into our light.

 

            Does God want us to keep plugging and unplugging our lights like that?   No – I don’t think so either.   We need to keep remembering to keep plugged into Jesus – and shine for Him in ALL we do – every day.   So that when people see us – they will see Jesus!1

 

            Let’s end by singing our song, one more time.   This little light of mine!”   Thanks for coming up today.

 

            Last Friday night, the Olympics had their opening ceremony.  How many of you were able to see it?   One of the favorite parts of the opening ceremonies for me is always the lighting of the Olympic Torch. The  Olympic Torch Relay kicked off on Oct. 24, last fall,  at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece, where the flame was handed to the first torchbearer in front of Olympic officials.  Since Oct. 24, the torch traveled some 1250 miles, through the hands of 7,500 runners which represented 75 million South Koreans.  Guess what the theme was for this year's Olympic Torch Relay?  "Let Everyone Shine!" The slogan is meant to represent a message of peace, which has really defined the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang. This year's Olympic Games is historic step of peace: For the first time in Olympic history, athletes from North and South Korea will marched together under one flag — the Korean unification flag — at the opening ceremony on Friday, and will compete as one team.2

 

            I always love seeing who is chosen to carry the light.   This year it was amazing to see two women carrying the light together – one woman from North Korea and one from South Korea.   That shared light was a sign of peace really– a light that shown in the darkness of the unrest that has been for so many years between the two countries over the years.  

 

            Let everyone shine! A message for the Olympics – and for us as well!   We have been talking throughout the last several weeks about being led by the light.   And as we read all throughout the Scriptures we see that God is light and we are to reflect that light – to shine for God’s glory.

 

            I invite you to get your Bibles and let’s look together first at John 12.  John is in the New Testament, the 4th Gospel; you can find it somewhat near the beginning of the New Testament.   John’s Gospel begins by saying that Jesus is the Light that shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot extinguish it.  (John 1:5)  Near the end of His ministry, Jesus again tells  His disciples that He is  the light and how they were called to live in that light.   Look at John 12:35-36:   35Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. 36 Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.”

 

Jesus wasn’t going to be with the disciples much longer – but if they put their trust in Jesus and followed Him, Jesus said that they would become children of Light.   That light from the Holy Spirit would live within them – and they could go on from there and reflect the light of Jesus wherever they went.

 

The Apostle Paul expounded on this idea in his letter to the Ephesians.   Flip over to kind of the middle of the New Testament and look at Ephesians 5.   At verse 1, Paul says:  “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children…. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord.   So, live as people of light!   For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” 

 

Before we knew the Lord, we were all living in darkness – in a place of sin.   We looked more like the world in rejecting God – trying to live on our own – living only for ourselves.    But now we have Christ living in us through the Holy Spirit.   Because Jesus is the Light of the World – His light is in us!   We are light in the Lord.   And we are called to walk as children of light.                                                                  

 

            But I am afraid there are times that we take that light and hide it under a bushel.   As John said in I John 2, so often we go back to the darkness and don’t walk in the light.   John says: “Those who say they live in God, should live their lives as Jesus did.   If anyone claims, “I am living in the light”, but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness.  Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble.” (I John 2:6, 9-10)   Sometimes, we can hide Christ’s light by the way we treat others – or by our negative attitudes or by grudges we hold onto.   Our critical comments – judging or condemning others, can certainly hide Christ’s light.   We often act just the opposite of Jesus – who had great compassion and mercy for all – and loved even those who seemed the least deserving.

 

 The German atheist philosopher Nietzsche once said that if he saw more redeemed people he might be more inclined to believe in their Redeemer.3  He saw that Christians were not acting like they had the Redeemer living within them.   And Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”4

 

            Our actions and reactions – the way we treat people – it all can affect the shining of our light, can’t it?   We can’t shine our light and make a difference for Christ if we are acting the opposite of how Christ acted!   And people are watching us – and making judgments about us by the way we act.   Do we really act like the Jesus we say we believe in?

 

            We are called, as Stephen Covey says, to “Be a light, not a judge.   A model and not a critic.”3   We are to follow the example of Jesus and treat others the way He did.    We need to be careful what we say…using words that are encourages and builds up, rather than tears down.   We need to be the ones who are seeking peace – reconciling with others and showing love to even the most difficult people in our lives. 

 

            Questions we can ask ourselves are:   Is the way that I am treating this person the way Jesus would treat him/her?   Is this the way I would talk about this person if I could truly see Jesus standing here in my presence?   Do my actions and my words bring glory to God?  

 

            Philippians 2:14-15 says, Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”         

 

Where are we to shine? We are to shine as lights before others, out in the world, in the midst of a dark and broken generation. We are not called to shine as lights only in our homes, or only in our churches, or only when among our Christian friends. We are to shine at all times and at all places, even when it is difficult.

 

It has been said the light shines brightest in the deepest darkness.  When we are struggling with difficult relationships, we must shine and care for people like Jesus does – seeking forgiveness and love.   When we choose love instead of hate, we are showing our relationship with Jesus and reflecting His radiance to the world around us. When people all around us are going the wrong direction and walking in darkness, we must shine out the truth of God’s love and light.   When everything seems to be falling down around us, we must shine out the hope we have in Jesus, who will carry us through whatever we have to face.

 

      I read recently about how some specialized paratroopers in World War Two were people who really shined their light, even in the midst of great danger and difficulty.  These soldiers proved to be an absolutely vital part of the Allied victories.

 

At the start of the war, it was extremely hard to find the correct location from the air to parachute soldiers into enemy territory ….because of enemy forces patrolling the area and little to no visibility.  For example, paratroopers dropping into Sicily in 1943 were scattered as far as 65 miles from their intended drop zones.  

 

This was no small problem; if the troops weren’t able to land close to their target, their mission would be completely ineffective. To solve this problem, the military created the pathfinders.

 

Pathfinders were small groups of specially trained paratroopers who jumped ahead of the rest of the force, behind enemy lines.  Once on the ground, the job of the pathfinder was to find and mark the correct drop zone with signal beacons, flares, or specialized lanterns visible from the air. These men would literally light the way, allowing pilots and paratroopers to see exactly where they needed to land.  In the midst of darkness and chaos, fear and danger, light provided a way for others to head in the right direction. 

 

     In much the same way, we as Christians are to be lights – spiritual pathfinders.    A Christian living a life of obedience to Christ and His Word stands out like a beacon in the midst of the darkness of our world.    We are to be that light that illuminates and brings comfort and hope.   We are to be like a lighthouse – a light shining in the midst of the storm, showing the right direction and helping those people from making a shipwreck of their lives.   A light, living as a guide and pointing others to Jesus.5

 

Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith once said, There are five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four.”5

 

What do people find when they read you?

 

May it be that when others see us, they will see Jesus – the light of the world – shining through the darkness.

 

PRAYER & INVITATION

 

RESOURCES

1The children’s sermon was based on combining two children’s sermons I found on-line:   Plugged In and Turned on for Jesus” - www.sermons4kids.com/pluggedin.html,  and “Let Your Light Shine, by Gayle Lovvorn – (www.sermons4kids.com/let_your_light_shine_gayle_lovvorn.htm )

2https://www.pyeongchang2018.com/en/torch-relay/olympic-torch-relay/overview

3  Friedrich Nietzsche quote.

 https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/586161-i-might-believe-in-the-redeemer-if-his-followers-looked

4Mahatma Gandi quote.  https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/22155-i-like-your-christ-i-do-not-like-your-christians

5Clayton Kraby, “Spiritual Pathfinders – Lights in the midst of the Darkness.”   https://reasonabletheology.org/spiritual-pathfinders-lights-in-the-midst-of-darkness/