Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

By Rayola Kelley

One of the many things we take for granted is light. The sun rises to mark a new day and a new beginning. It brings life, changes, and newness to the earth around us. Consider for a moment what our world would be like if the sun did not exist. Darkness would consume us and bring everything to total ruin.

While meditating about the light, I had to consider how we take our spiritual light for granted. I remember the darkness I lived in before I encountered that glorious light of man’s soul. The spiritual darkness was great in my life. I walked in despair about my sin, hopelessness about my future, and sorrowful about an existence that was below substandard. The questions I had about life often mocked me for life seemed less like a gift and more like an exercise in futility.

In spite of my depression, the light broke through the darkness. Today I know the light was presented to me in a form of the simple message: The Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3-6). At the time I did not realize it but this simple message was powerful because of the light it bears. This light was not a source of a heavenly body, but a heavenly Person who, as God, took on the status of a servant and was fashioned in the form of a man. This Man by the name of Jesus Christ took my sins upon Him and died on a cross in my place. He was buried and three days later rose from the grave proving victory over the grave and death.

A couple of years after my conversion, I began to see more clearly the value of this light. I could relate to the people of two milleniums ago, “…which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” (Matthew 4:16). Sadly, people do not know they are in darkness until there is a contrast for they think they are in the light because the darkness is so great (Matthew 6:22-23). For years I relied on my so-called “goodness” to somehow get into heaven. Even though I had an outward facade of obedience and religion, I inwardly knew that it was a game. In my mind all I had to do was con or convince God of my “goodness.” I would do this by storing up brownie points.

How foolish my logic was, but in light of what I knew, it was the only thing that made sense. But through a series of events I began to see that my “goodness” was only surface and that inwardly I was a miserable wretch. I did not realize that greater the light in the soul plagued by darkness, the greater the darkness becomes to reveal its very existence. I became more weighed down by the revelation of my sin and consumed by misery as I realized the only one I had been conning was myself.

Praise God for His witnesses. People presented the Gospel to me and my eyes were opened to the beauty of Jesus Christ. I had the knowledge of my sin but now I needed to perceive or see the solution to my desperate plight: Jesus Christ. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to find out I was a hopeless sinner that could not save myself but that knowledge was in light of the glorious news that God provided the substitute who became the light of forgiveness, hope, purpose, and life to man’s soul.

How many times have you heard the theme of this old story? Are you tired of it? I hope not because this message stands unique, not because of its contents, but because of the light that not only penetrated my heart over two decades ago. It continues to shine forth in my soul, bringing life, changes, and newness to me on a consistent basis. In fact, if this story has lost its luster, you may have strayed from the light and are walking in some form of darkness.

During my years as a Christian I have encountered situations where I discovered the light had lost it’s brightness in my life. This reality has always caused great concern for me because if you are not walking in the light you will not have forgiveness of sin or priceless fellowship (1 John 1:7). As I examined my spiritual plight I found the same scenario: I had slowly moved away from the light without recognizing it.

There are a couple of reasons why believers move away from the light and I would like to encourage you to examine your own spiritual walk to insure you are still walking in the brightness of Jesus Christ.

We leave our first love. It is important to remember the Christian life is not about you but about Jesus Christ. Christians must insure that their religious activities do not serve as substitutes for an intimate relationship with God. When we lose sight of the fact that Christianity is a relationship, we can easily move away from the light and lose sight of our main focus: To know, love, and serve Jesus Christ.

We begin to walk in the shadows. Walking in the shadows in Christianity points to compromise. This can come in the form of toying with sin, agreement with the world, reliance on the arm of the flesh, or setting affections on earthly things. The problem with compromise is that a person’s activities may not be blatant sin but it is a form of darkness that affects attitudes and hearts. As a person walks further away from the light, his or her eyes become adjusted to the darkness producing a complacent attitude towards God. As a result, the person is now spiritually dull and is unable to discern his or her spiritual condition.

We fail to remember that we have been purged. Second Peter 1:8-9 talks about how people become barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ. The main reason is they are blind and can’t see afar off because they have forgotten that they were purged from their own sin. Jesus and Him crucified reminds us there is no life, hope, purpose, or good thing apart from Him. This reality gives us a reality check about our spiritual condition and our constant need for Him. As the light, He exposes all our sins and tears away cloaks that hide our heart condition. People who forget they are purged often become self-righteous and self-serving in their spiritual life. They become judges to those who cross their path but are indifferent to the board in their own eye. They lack compassion; therefore, they are deficient in benevolence and are unable to enter into the plights of others. They are surface in their commitment and rarely deal in reality. They have forgotten that all stand level at the cross and because of this reality all true spiritual maturity is marked by humility and not arrogance.

The final reason for this condition is that we forget or fail to realize why we are here. Some Christians give the impression that the reason they are here is to get the most out of this life until they reach heaven. They basically live, think, and act according to personal desires. Their vision never gets further than their own dreams and ideas that lead them on the path of vanity. There are three reasons why Christians are not immediately taken to heaven upon conversion. They are: 1) To fulfill their commission to preach the Gospel and make disciples of Jesus; 2) to discover and do the will of God; and 3) to bring glory and honor to Him. Believers who fail to fulfill their heavenly purpose eventually lose their way. Such people walk according to the flesh and not the Spirit. The fleshly walk brings them into conflict with the Spirit, which results in darkness in the form of ignorance, delusion, and rebellion.

It is a sure bet that the sun will come up tomorrow but are you sure the life of the Son is brightly shining in and through you? There are many different lights in the physical realm, but they can’t produce the same light as the sun. Likewise, there are many spiritual lights that can give us a false security about our spiritual condition but there is only one true light that can truly show us where we stand with God. This light is not some natural source but the Person of Jesus Christ.

It is important to put this subject in perspective at different times in our lives. What would the world be like if the light of Jesus had not come? What would your life be like, if Jesus had not stepped on the scene? Today many are in darkness but as Christians, our lives must become a contrast to those who have not seen the light in the hope that they will when they encounter us. But how many of us have strayed from that light or put it under a basket? As Christians we must make sure the light shines in the dark places by seeing to it that we not only keep close to the light, but that the light is a living reality in us. Have you checked out the light that is coming from your soul lately? Accept the challenge and let the life of Jesus shine through you.