This article is courtesy of Image Magazine
and appeared first in January, 1995.
Several members of the congregation felt that we had lost
the memorization skills of the past generation. So a group of
teachers and parents decided to have a memory verse contest for
the children. Each age group was given specific verses that were
considered age appropriate.
The group planning the event was surprised when several 3-4
year olds decided to join the kindergarten through sixth grade
classes. One particularly precocious three year old, named
Chris, stood out immediately.
He had memorized a verse that was assigned to some of the
third and fourth graders, "Let your light so shine before men
that they may see your good works and glorify the Father who is
in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
When it was Chris' turn to give his memory verse he stood
proudly before the congregation. With a big smile on his face,
his shoulders thrown back, he announced emphatically, "Let my
In the intensity of the moment, he had forgotten the verse.
Of course, everyone enjoyed the precious display of enthusiasm.
But many of us have never forgotten Chris' "paraphrase" of that
particular verse. Without knowing it, he had taken an
instruction of Jesus' and turned it into a commanding plea.
It was hard to know if his statement was a request for God
to help his candle shine or a declaration of his intention to shine for the Lord.
Little children seem comfortable in thinking of themselves
as light. They eagerly sing, "This little light of mine," vowing
to shine through the whole neighborhood and to keep Satan from
extinguishing their flames.
Many of us have experienced an evening devotional with young
people where one person lights a candle and passes the torch to
others while singing, "It only takes a spark to get a fire going
and soon all those around will warm up to its glowing."
But do we believe these truths we sing so fervently in our
youth? As we age is it necessary for us to lose some wattage, or
should we be able to shine even more brightly?
Images of light permeate Scripture. If we look closely we
see a mirror image of light in the Old and New Testament. God is
light (Psalm 27:1; 43:3) and calls his people to be a light to
the nations (Isaiah 42:6-7; 49:6; 60:1-3). Jesus declares
himself the light of the world (John 8:12) and Paul instructs the
church to live as children of light (Ephesians 5: 8-10).
What would happen if we took this charge seriously and
decided to truly to live as light? What would it look like for
us to be agents of light in a world which is full of darkness?
Several things come to mind:
- The workplace would be illuminated. In today's climate
we often find workers who are competitive, suspicious, and
fearful. With cutbacks and layoffs common, gender and civil
rights issues at the forefront of concern, and technology
changing the work climate, it is no wonder that workers often are less productive, more critical, and unable to support one another
But Christians can bring light into this difficult
situation. We can pray for our co-workers, offer words of
encouragement, listen to their troubles and concerns, help in
times of stress. These simple acts can brighten the office,
schoolroom, or marketplace in small but significant ways.
- Our homes would be warm and glowing. In a period of
history when many husbands and wives are estranged, when children
are frequently caring for themselves, when even the best of
families are stressed and strained, Christian homes should be
Instead of always bringing our worst selves home at the end
of the day depleted and short-tempered, Christians should hold in
reserve a measure of light for those we love most--our own
families. Or even when exhausted, the Christian has the
illuminating presence of God's Holy Spirit to revive and to
comfort. We should take time to listen, to express love and
concern, to laugh and enjoy life, to rest and be restored, to
pray and experience God's love.
- Our own lives would be more brilliant. Many will be
tempted to think in terms of success when we speak of personal
brilliance, but for the Christian it carries a different meaning.
It signifies a life which is wholly surrendered to the Lord, one
which is able to see both its strengths and weaknesses realizing
that both are gifts of God.
Individuals who live as believers realize that they must be
dependent on the true source of light. This means time to spend
with God reading his word, pouring out one's heart to him,
reflecting on his character, and praising him for being God.
- We would be a lamp unto the world. Just as the
covenant people of old were called to be the light of God to the
nations, so are his people today. If we lived as children of
light all those with whom we come in contact would see the
illuminating power of God in us.
The Christian practices being light to others at the grocery
store by simply smiling, being courteous, or paying attention to
the cashier or carryout attendant. At the gas station, the dry
cleaners, the movie theater, the next door neighbor's we must be
conscious that we may be the only reflection of God which people
see in their lives that day. We may be selected by God to
deliver his words of life to any of these individuals when the
time is right. We are God's agents of light in relation to these
If we live as light in the world we will find ourselves
facing God and others like young Chris. We will have big smiles
on our faces, shoulders thrown back, declaring for all who will
hear, "Let my candle shine!" And he will.