Written by Bill Whitt
December 19, 2023
Written by Bill Whitt
One of my favorite holiday traditions is hanging lights on the Christmas tree. I love how they make the house bright and cheery!
- The Bible says the very first Christmas was also filled with light. When Jesus came to earth, John described it this way: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5, NIV).
As we lead renewal efforts in our churches, the imagery of light and darkness can be a helpful guiding metaphor. Sometimes it can feel like the world is a dark place, and that’s because it is. But the good news is that it can never overcome the light of Jesus!
- How can your church bring light to the darkness? Here are a few ideas!
Five Ideas to Bring the Light of Jesus to the World
Idea 1: Model Reconciliation
- Did you know that the world has the highest number of violent conflicts since World War II? Two billion people now live in or around areas of violent conflict. In the darkness of the world, even a small perceived offense can cascade into a decades-long regional war.
- The Bible urges us to be different. Jesus said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44, NIV). Our willingness to transform an offense into an opportunity for ministry rather than warfare is like shining light into the darkness.
Idea 2: Advocate for Justice
- Almost 1 in 10 people live in extreme poverty worldwide today. Worse still, this sad reality is often the result of rich and powerful leaders oppressing the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
- The Bible calls Christ’s followers to pursue a different way by advocating for justice. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27, NIV). When we look out for others rather than ourselves, is like brilliant light piercing the darkness.
Ideal 3: Show Unity in Diversity
- Across the globe today, people of different ethnicities, races, and belief systems seem to prefer violent fighting to peaceful co-existing. They draw dividing lines and fiercely maintain them at any cost.
- The Bible offers a better way. “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Colossians 3:11, NIV). As Christians, our primary identity is that we are forgiven and adopted children of God, meaning we can have unity no matter what else may try to divide us.
Idea 4: Offer Peace to Anxious Hearts
- Anxiety disorders have almost doubled in prevalence since 2010, and statistics show that almost a third of adults will have an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.
- In the darkness of this crippling anxiety epidemic, Christianity offers the true light of hope. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV). When we extend this lifeline to people, we shine light into their darkness.
Idea 5: Proclaim the Only Way to Peace With God
- Behind all the darkness in the world, in our interpersonal relationships, and in our own hearts lies the greatest darkness of all — a broken relationship with our Creator.
- The Bible’s message is clear: People who struggle under the weight of guilt and shame can find true freedom in Christ and in him alone. “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11-12, NIV).
- Because Jesus was rejected and endured the guilt and shame our sins deserved, we never have to bear that weight ourselves.
What a tremendous Light we have to share with the world! This Light can meet its deepest needs!
- Being light in the darkness is not optional; it’s at the very heart of our calling (Matt. 5:14).
- What can you do to bring light into your community today?