When I came to Faith in my early twenties, I lived in a small one bedroom house. I rarely cooked, and didn’t frequent the kitchen much. Most of my meals were prepared by Wendy, Jack, or McD’s, and as a result, would occasionally leave fast food bags or wrappers lying around.
One night, as I flipped on the light, a number of cockroaches scampered across the kitchen counter, quickly disappearing in the cabinets. Though they all ran in different directions, their destination was the same.
John 3:19 says, “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved. But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God.”
It didn’t take long to learn the Church has its share of cockroaches too. People who, when the Preacher goes from preachin’ to meddlin’, squirm when the message hits a little too close to home. Those, who when the light of God’s truth reveals what they have so carefully hidden, seek a sanctuary of shade.
Cockroaches run to darkness by nature. Christians run there by choice.
HOW LIGHT WORKS
As may have been the case with some of you, my first apartment wasn’t “fully furnished”. A kitchen table and a few chairs. (none of which matched the table…or each other) A couch so worn that when you sank in the cushion you’d swear you were sitting in the apartment below. A coffee table (cable spool), matching end tables (orange crates), and a television that picked up two and a half channels . My bedroom had a mattress, and…well…that was pretty much it. No bed frame, no box spring, no dresser.
And no overhead light.
Managing to find a small lamp, I realized I had nothing to set it on. I could have used one of the orange crates, but knowing we would lose the “Ag Chic” look we were going for, I placed it on the carpet in the corner. After all, my mattress was only 7 inches off the floor, so it was all relative. As I turned it on, I thought it did a great job.
Of lighting the corner.
Isn’t that how some of us live spiritually? Limiting the amount of light, and strategically placing it only in areas we want other to see? My bedroom could be messy, but as long as that corner was clean…
TIPS ON LIGHTING
The Word of God is light, but for some it’s like a flashlight placed in a drawer, used only in case of emergency. Like when the power goes out, and there’s no other way to navigate the darkness. For others it’s “accent lighting”, highlighting only things they want others to see. It’s only when every room in our house has overhead lighting that we will truly walk in the light God intended. The Light where you find healing for a broken heart, wholeness for a life fractured by pain and suffering, and freedom from the chains of addiction.
Where we place the light determines its effectiveness in our lives. Jesus said, “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light.” (Luke 8:16) As we exalt (lift up) Jesus, His light will fill the room, and help bring clarity to things God wants us to see. It’s why, when we worship, we’re more sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
But we’re all equipped with “dimmer switches”, allowing us to regulate that light. Our actions, or inactions, determine not only how bright the light will be, but how much of our lives will be illuminated. In Romans 12:2, Paul said, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Conform, and the light will grow dim. Conform long enough, and you will stumble in darkness. But renew your mind with the light of God’s Word, walk in the light as He is in the light, and you will be transformed. You will change, and be changed into the image of Christ.
CONSIDER THE LIGHTING
This is the year of my 40th High School reunion, (can’t believe my friends are getting so old) They’re the ones who made it some of the best years of my life. Unfortunately, I’m unable to attend, but would have loved cruising down memory lane. Friday night football, basketball, and after game dances. Band concerts and halftime shows, riding on the booster bus, pep rallies, and four years of just “hangin’ out”.
But not all of those memories were…let’s say…legal. Most of this “illicit activity” revolved around the consumption of adult beverages. Not once do I remember, upon securing that which was necessary for the evening, find ourselves debating which well lit parking lot we should choose to partake of this beverage. “Hey Hoove, let’s take that six-pack over to Kmart. I heard those new halogens are amazing!”, said none of my friends ever.
If you’re going to do something you know could lead to an unwanted consequence, you find a remote location with little to no lighting at all. Fortunately for us (or unfortunately depending on your perspective) we lived in the fertile San Joaquin Valley, surrounded by acres and acres of orange groves. I’ve spent a few nights in some, but to this day couldn’t tell you the difference between a Navel and a Valencia.
Do you know some Christians look for a church much the same way? Where can I go and continue my “illicit activity” without conviction? How bright is it? Is it overhead lighting, or just a lamp in the corner? Can I keep hidden the things I’ve tucked away in darkness, or will it be exposed, allowing others to see? Will it bring to light things about myself I’d rather not know?
The real question we should be asking is… How serious am I about my walk with Christ? Am I just a follower, or am I a disciple? The answer to these questions can be illuminating…or not.
So let me encourage you.
Find a place where the Light of the World is exalted. Where the Light of the Word is at the center of all that is said and done, without compromise or conformity. And where hearts joyfully receive the Light of God’s truth. It is there you will find love, joy, and peace. You will find mercy, grace, and forgiveness. You will find deliverance, healing and wholeness. But there’s one thing you won’t find.