Why We’re Called to Illuminate Our World

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Light is fascinating. It comes in many forms. It illuminates. It reveals. It makes things clear.

Often, we don’t appreciate the value of light until we’re stuck in a dark place without knowing the way out. (If you’ve ever played a game of Underground Church, you can definitely relate.) But light is necessary for survival. God intended it this way from the beginning.

LET THERE BE LIGHT

The Holman Bible Dictionary defines the word light as “that which penetrates and dispells darkness.” Scripture also teaches us a lot about light. First, God created it (Genesis 1:3). Second, God Himself is the essence of light (Psalm 104:2, John 8:12). God’s Word is a “light” to our path (Psalm 119:105). And ultimately, Jesus said His disciples are to be the “light of the world,” shining that light before others (Matthew 5:14-16).

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT

For the apostle Paul, light played a key role in his life and ministry. In three different accounts within the Book of Acts (9:3; 22:6; 26:13), we learn that Paul was forced to the ground by an intense light. While en route to imprison individuals who had accepted Jesus as the Messiah, Paul was struck blind by this startling light. In the midst of his traumatic experience, he heard the voice of Jesus and was converted and baptized. He then gained sight, both physically and spiritually. Paul’s transformational experience with the “Light of the world” helped him finally understand his role as a disciple called to shine his light before men.

Paul’s experience only sparked the beginning of what would become a lifelong passion — taking the message of the gospel into places of spiritual darkness. He took three missionary journeys, spreading the gospel to individuals and establishing churches along the way. With an interesting twist, the man who once arrested professing Christ-followers soon found himself imprisoned (and eventually executed) for confessing the very truth he sought to destroy.

LEAVE THE LIGHT ON 

Paul’s three letters to Timothy and Titus (known as the Pastoral Letters) were written near the end of his life, while imprisoned, as a form of mentorship to his younger associates who were carrying on the ministry of the gospel to their local churches. These letters share numerous characteristics, specifically in that they were very personal in tone.

Paul had met Timothy and Titus during his missionary journeys. Likely, they were both coverted under Paul’s teachings, which could’ve led to the closeness in their connection and bond. In 1 Corinthians 4:17, Paul referred to Timothy as a “dearly loved and faithful son in the Lord.” Paul also referred to Titus as “my true son in our common faith” (Titus 1:4).

Within these bonds of faith in Christ, Paul used his “light” experience to invest the lives of Timothy and Titus so that they could also shine their light before men. As he wrote the Pastoral Letters, Paul shared heartfelt wisdom and instructions to the younger mentees regarding how to handle pastoral oversight within the church.

Ultimately, Paul did more than dish out mandates and guidelines to Timothy and Titus. He offered support and encouragement for their task of sharing the light with others. Paul knew their struggles. And instead of judging or rebuking them, he helped steer them in such a way that they could be successful in leading others to know the illuminating message of the gospel.

BE THE LIGHT

In your own journey, have you had a spiritually blinding experience? Has someone along the way invested in you in ways that have helped you know and understand Jesus — the Light of the world? And, are there people in your life whom you are being “the light of the world” to?

These questions are the framework for our lives as disciples of Jesus. If you’re having trouble answering any of them, then maybe this is your “startling light” experience.

Like Paul, be challenged with the passion of spreading the gospel to the spiritually dark places within your reach. Find others to invest in. Make sure other like-minded Christ-followers are investing in you as well. Above all, “let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

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