Summary: Light and darkness are loaded words in the Bible. Jesus call for us to be children of light is serious business.
What does it mean to let your light shine?
Dale Foster and I were about 14 years old when we decided to explore a cave we had discovered in the woods not far from my home in Colbert Heights, Alabama. We had heard that it went for miles back under the mountain. We took our flashlights and some paper and pens and started on our adventure. We were going to map this cave. You had to crawl through several passages and our plan was to stay to the left and follow the left wall. We were way back in there for a long time and had crawled through some pretty tight holes when we noticed our flashlights weren’t as bright as they should be. It takes a lot for reality to hit a 14 year old boy. But the light began to dawn on us. We were about to be in the dark. Dale wisely suggested that we turn one flashlight off and just use one at a time and head back out of there. So whoever had their light on was the leader. Once or twice we turned them off to see just how dark it was. Crawling on your belly under a mountain of rock in the total darkness far from the entrance has an effect on your nerves that you don’t want to experience very long.
I think about Jesus words to those who are condemned. Matt 22:13 "Then the king said to the servants, ’Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Hell is a lake of fire with no light, a place of worms that won’t die but eat you forever. Hell is the dark place where all your worst nightmares come true.
In the movie Ghandi, the Hindus and the Muslims are at war and at one point a man comes to Ghandi and says, “I am going to hell!” Ghandi asks him, “Why do you think you are going to go to hell?” Then the man falls down before him and says, “I killed a Muslim child.” Ghandi replies, “I know a way out of hell. Find a little child whose parents have been killed and raise him as your own son, only be sure he grows up a Muslim.” It is a clever plan, but it is not the way out of hell. Jesus has given us the only way out of hell. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, but by me.” Jesus offered proof of his plan by dying on the cross and carrying all our sins with him and three days later rising victorious over sin and the grave. Jesus knows the way out of hell. He’s the only one who does. He is the light who has come to shine in our darkness.
When God began creation the Bible says, “The earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”
But the word of God spoke and the first recorded command of God was given: “Let there be light, and there was light.” The word of God, the light of the world, chases away the darkness. God introduces light and life and order and beauty into the darkness and formless chaos. Wherever God’s presence comes, light and life come too. Wherever God withdraws his presence, darkness, death and destruction follow. God has a way out of hell, a way out of darkness into eternal light.
I love the song that goes: