• Diana Dodd

Walking in the Son Light

“And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”- John 3:19

Have you ever stared into a very bright light? It hurts, doesn’t it? Your first instinct is to throw up your hand to shield your eyes and immediately turn away. Some of the nastiest pests, like rats and cockroaches, prefer to be in darkness and run from light.

Light exposes things that we’d sometimes rather not see. When a secret is revealed, we say it was brought to light. Have you ever looked at your floor or a piece a furniture when a shaft of sunlight shines on it through a window? Even if you’ve just recently cleaned, there will be dust glaringly and frustratingly obvious in that unforgiving light.

There is one Light, however, that is immensely and imminently forgiving, Jesus Christ, the Light of men (John 1:4). But make no mistake, when you first encounter His brilliant light and all your dark deeds are exposed to Him, it’s just as painful as staring into the sun. But it’s also an incredible relief to let Him see your secrets and sins, to admit to Him that you need His guiding light in your life – that you need Him to save you from the darkness.

It's such a sweet relief to step into His light, but you may be wondering how we stay in the light. We are, after all, imperfect humans who continue to make mistakes and commit sins.

Ephesians 1:13 tells us, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” So, we’re sealed by the Holy Spirit of God to keep the light in and help keep the darkness out, and then, as we grow in the knowledge of God, we make fewer mistakes and recognize them more quickly when we do make them. And God’s forgiveness does not just apply to our past sins from before we knew Him, it applies to any sins we commit in the future also. (See 1 John 2:1, 2.)

Knowing what’s right helps us make the choice to stay in the light and avoid the darkness. Colossians 3:9b, 10 says “…seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and put on the new self, which is being renewed in the knowledge after the image of its creator.” The more we know about God, His commandments, and how to follow Him, the more natural it becomes. We choose to walk in the light and avoid the darkness. Verse 12 of Colossians 3 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” We deny our natural selfish tendencies and choose to pursue the fruits of the Spirit instead. (See Galatians 5:22-24.)

As we learn more about God and His character, we can choose to be more like Him and less like the world, reflecting His light into the darkness of the world, but to accomplish this, we must be honest with Him and with ourselves about our faith.

Psalm 145:18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth [emphasis mine].” Now, I pondered that scripture for days, and I’ve concluded that it means if you really want God’s presence in your life, you must be completely honest with Him about who you are and completely open and submissive to Him. Even though He already knows all about us, we must admit our struggles and character flaws to Him. You must confess all your faults, lay yourself bare, and earnestly seek Him, giving Him complete control of your life. (See also Jeremiah 29:13)

That was once a scary thought for an independent-minded control freak like me. Sometimes we would rather bargain with God. We say things like, “God, if you get me out of this mess, I’ll believe you’re real,” or “I promise I’ll never do this again if You just fix it.” That’s not truly seeking God. That’s wanting a genie in a bottle that’ll pop out, fix your mess, then pop back in and let you go along your merry way until you mess up again.

One of the primary ways we learn to walk in the light is by relinquishing our pride and selfishness. It comes more naturally after we’ve matured a bit in the faith, but I think that is the first thought process that must shift for us. We can no longer be the center of our universe.

There is a woman I encounter nearly every day when I go out to walk my dog. She runs with her dog leashed to a belt around her waist. She travels right up the middle of the sidewalk refusing to yield to the right or left to other pedestrians, not even acknowledging our presence. She looks straight ahead, chin lifted, displaying a challenging attitude, daring anyone to say anything to her regarding her rudeness. It takes all the self-control I possess not to, knowing full well that anyone who exhibits such entitled behavior is probably not only rude, but a bully to boot.

Every time I see her and am tempted to reprimand her, I remind myself that I have no control over her or anyone else. So, whenever she approaches, and I must step off into the grass or even onto the roadside to avoid a confrontation between our animals, I lift my eyes to the LORD and ask for His help in controlling my response to her.

Trust me, friends, it burns my biscuits to let her get away with such selfishness, but until and unless I have God’s permission to say something and can do so without losing my temper and sinning with my words, I must let her pass unmolested.

I see that woman as indicative of the “me first” mentality rampant in the world today, and I’ve seen several other such displays recently, especially on the road. Drivers using the turning lane to pass slower motorists, ignoring “stop” signs, driving while looking at their phones rather than the road. Just the other day as I walked, I saw a car drive for several yards on the wrong side of the road because the driver was looking at his phone! Fortunately, he was on a quiet side street and nothing else was coming.

The above examples display a distinct lack of regard for the safety of others and a belief that what they want to do or where they need to go is of more importance than anyone else’s concerns or destinations. They believe they have the right to ignore traffic laws and codes of civilized behavior.

The enemy has planted the idea in people’s heads that “I” am more important than anyone else. And by keeping them entirely preoccupied with themselves, the enemy blinds them to their need for God.

As Christians we’re called to acknowledge God in all we do, and to show our allegiance to Him by how we treat others. I know I beat this drum often, but it is an essential part of living the Gospel. People won’t know we’re Christians if we act just like everyone else.

You all know by now that I love the book of James. There is a scripture I often called upon whenever I was in a leadership position for a volunteer organization, especially when my pride or desire to have my own way reared its ugly head, and I continue to call upon this scripture in my current profession. It’s James 3:16, 17, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition [emphasis mine] exist there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, and good fruits, and sincere.”

When we put others’ best interests before our own, we will look very different from those who do not. It’s a type of evangelism for Christ. When we are considerate and kind where others are rude and selfish, we’ll stand out, shining a bit of God’s light and love into the world, and catching the attention of some in the shadows. They just may wonder what makes us different, and that may lead them to investigate further the reason for our peace and joy in a violent, angry world. And eventually they may choose to step into the light themselves. (See 1 Peter 2:9-12.)

So, friends, when we’re tempted to be just as self-centered and uncharitable as those around us, let us remember that we have a bright, shining spotlight upon us, and our goodness may lead someone else to seek the light.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9.

Father God, we thank you so much for calling us out of the darkness. We are so grateful for the warmth, security, and goodness present in Your Light. Please help us to continue walking in Your light and help us to reflect into the darkness of the world. In Jesus Christ’s holy and shining name – Amen.

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