Friday, November 11, 2011

Spotlight on...Spotlight off



"I am the world's light.  No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness.  I provide plenty of light to live in."
(John 8:12 The Message)

Have you ever stumbled around in the darkness, stubbing your toe on something in your path that you knew perfectly well was there, but you just were "disoriented" by the darkness and ran into it anyway?  I think we might all have had that experience at least once in our lives.  With our toe throbbing, tears welling up in our eyes, and our original intention for being up in the dark lost in all the pain, we dance around and around bemoaning our pain.  Why were we walking in the dark anyway?  It is usually some silly reason, like we thought we could find our way without the light!  Ummm....how's that working for ya?

If there is one thing that I have come to conclude in my life thus far it is that I don't do so well stumbling around in the "dark" when it comes to the spiritual side of my life.  I may make every effort to live "right", being obedient as "well" as I can, but guess what...I get my spiritual "toes" stubbed a whole lot!  The problem about trying to make a "go" at obedience without God's help is pretty much like walking in the darkness when our path is riddled with all kinds of things that stand in our way of safe passage!  

Jesus made us a promise.  Plain and simple, it is that he PROVIDES light.  Not just "some" light, but PLENTY of light for us to live IN.  Okay, if you missed those emphasized words, let me hit them again.  It is his PROVISION of light that we have been given - we do nothing to "turn that light on" in our lives - it is already there.  We just have to use the light we are given to avoid the pitfalls that leave us hurting!  

It is MORE THAN ENOUGH light for the road we are on.  His light in our lives is not limited to just one area of our lives - it is like a floodlight that illuminates the entirety of our lives.  We often don't want that much "light" focused on us, so we try to hide some of the stuff in the corners hoping it won't be exposed to that light.  The fact is - light exposes.  We hit our toes a whole lot less when we allow that light free access into every area of our lives!

It is a light that we must LIVE IN.  It is not like a theatrical spotlight, step into it and perform a little, then step out of it and think we won't be noticed for what we do when we are out of it!  We LIVE IN it 100% of the time!  That is why God says nothing escapes his notice.  The light of Christ in our lives really keeps us humble - it keeps us from being one way on the surface while we are acting another way deep down inside.  When his light is allowed free access to every area of our lives, we may still not be entirely obedient, but when we are not, there is an immediate evidence of that disobedience.  We call that conviction and we want to run to God with it, or else we will deal with guilt and shame for a long time.

Jesus is talking to the Pharisee religious leaders of the day.  Whenever I think of what the Pharisees acted like, here is my little way of remembering:  A Pharisee lived a life that said, "I am pretty all right by the things I do and the things I don't do!"  It was kind of like saying, "I am a FAIR - I - SEE".  They saw themselves as okay in God's eyes, working to be right with God by the things they did or did not do.  To that, Jesus says, his followers have all the light they need to know exactly how to live and how to avoid the things in life that will trip them up - no set of rules and interpretations of rules were going to do that!

The fact is that we get "tripped up" in life - we call that sin.  We only "trip up" because we don't use the light we have been given.  It is kind of like walking around in the dark, fully aware that there are things in the room that will hurt us when we run into them, and doing it anyway!  When we choose to use the light we have been given, we call that obedience.  So, the choice is ours - either we use what we have been given, or we walk in the dark hoping to avoid the dangers.  Hopefully, as we grow more accustomed to the Light of Christ in our lives, we won't want to be without it so often!  The more we use what he provides in his Word, his teachings, his Spirit, and others he places in our lives as mentors, the more we become accustomed to being "in the light".  

So, the follower of Christ need never be in the dark about life.  The light we need is right there for our taking.  Sometimes, all we need to do is ask Jesus to make it a little brighter!  We don't step in and out of the "spotlight", performing one way in the light and another out, with any great satisfaction.  In fact, we usually find that we get pretty fatigued with being one way when we are "on stage" and another when we are "off stage".  If "spotlight" living has been your tendency, perhaps you need to ask Jesus to turn on the house lights!  You might see what you have been missing!