“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46)
Jesus spoke these words as he was teaching the people in the temple during the preparation days before the Passover on which he would be crucified. His words were spoken to the unbelieving crowds in broad daylight, and they did not understand what he was trying to teach them.
He came to us as a babe in a manger, heralded by heavenly hosts of angels shining with the “light of God’s glory” (Luke 2:9-14). He grew up into manhood, gaining favor with God and men (Luke 2:52). At the age of about 30, Jesus began to travel around his homeland, teaching the people that the kingdom of God had arrived. His miracles, signs and wonders testified to the truth of his teaching and his “light” offended the religious leaders, who were determined to kill him.
When his time had come, Jesus allowed himself to be hung on a cross. This unjust execution happened after several mock trials, which included lying witnesses, gruesome torture, and cowardly authorities who catered to the mobs. He died and was buried in a borrowed tomb. However, the scriptures state concerning Jesus: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
On Sunday, light burst forth from that borrowed tomb, the Lord Jesus rose from death to live forever, and his “light” is everlasting. What that means to us, his followers, is that we too are called to be light, reflecting the light of Jesus into the world as “Children of Light”. This lofty purpose is a day in, day out challenge we must face as we decide what we will think, say, and do in our own lives and in the lives of the people around us, many who are lost in darkness.
Paul, the Apostle, gives us solid teaching in the book of Galatians on how we can be light in this dark world. He says we need to understand that as God’s children, we do not follow the worldly rules of men.
“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.” (Galatians 4:6-11)
Instead of following the patterns of the culture around us, we are to educate ourselves with God’s wisdom so we are able to make good decisions and live to please God:
“…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:13-24)
We renew our minds and become “lights” by following Jesus, learning how he lived, what he taught, and by obeying all he has commanded us to do in the scriptures, thus becoming “children of light”.
“For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober…But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6, 8)
Being sober in a spiritual sense may be defined as being calm and collected, to have good sense, good judgement, wisdom, and being level-headed in times of stress. This reminder from Paul, who was able to rejoice in all circumstances, is important because we have an adversary who wants to distract and defeat us – Satan, the liar and murderer, who is still busy trying to tempt us to abandon Jesus and his kingdom of light.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
As children of light, we are the hands, feet and heart of Jesus in a dark world that desperately needs the true light that only Jesus can give. Our desire is to hold fast to the word of life, as we read in the words of Paul from Philippians 2:14-16:
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”