“This little light of mine,
I’m going to let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine”. (lyrics by Avis Burgeson Christiansen)
How many of us sang those words at Sunday school? Jesus said "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). There are many Bible passages referring to darkness and light. Darkness is symbolic of sin and evil and absence of God. Light is the very opposite – the presence of God.
Light illuminates. It shows the way. It exposes things clearly. It can provide direction. It can be a comfort. It can be decorative and beautiful. Where would we be without traffic lights, lighthouses, signal flares, candles, torches and electric light bulbs, even Christmas lights?
In the Sermon on the Mount, described in Matthew’s gospel, chapter five, Jesus tells his followers
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (v14-16)
When we become a Christian and receive God’s Holy Spirit, God’s light should shine through us to the world around us. There should be something about us as Christians which provides a beacon of light in the midst of dark times.
When do we need a light? When it’s dark. We don’t walk around with a torch on in the middle of the day. Yet I think it’s possible for Christians to do that. We can be full of exuberant worship and talk about the things of God in church on Sunday and with our Christian friends, and it’s a joy to do these things. Yet when it comes to unsaved family and friends, or workmates we may be hesitant to even declare our faith. We turn our lights off when they should be leading the way through the darkness for others.
There are others, of course, who fully accept the call to shine God's light in the dark places of this world, venturing into some of the most desperate places to take the gospel to those who have no hope, reaching out to drug addicts, prisoners, violent cults and terrorist gangs or taking the word of God into countries where the church is persecuted and it can be risking one's live to declare your faith.
During World War II in England, people would cover their windows with blackout curtains, and air raid wardens would patrol the streets to ensure that no light was visible. They knew that the tiniest chink of light could be seen a long way off. It takes only a tiny amount of light to pierce the darkness. We don’t need to dazzle our unsaved friends with the light of God’s love. His radiance shines through loving acts, simple conversations, small gestures and the living out of Christian values in our daily lives.