All of us at one time or another has heard the series of light bulb jokes. Most of them are ethnic is orientation. I want to have some fun by making sport of our differences.
- How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb? 12 – one to do the work and 11 to serve on the committee.
- How many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb? 3 – one to pray with the light bulb and 2 to carry the water.
- How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb? 15 – 6 to do a feasibility study, 6 to decide which kind of light bulb to get, one to replace the bulb and two others to comment on how he is doing it wrong.
- How many Pentecostals does it take to change a light bulb? 2 – One to minister to the bulb the other to lead the choruses.
- How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb? 3 – one to replace the bulb and two others to talk about the days when bulbs were less expensive and more committed.
- How many Congregationalists does it take to change a light bulb? CHANGE!!!
- How many Anglicans does it take to change a light bulb . . . . it depends on whether the light bulb really wants to change.
- How many existentialists does it take to change a light bulb (for the more cerebral) …….. fish
It doesn’t matter how many people it takes. . . . a bad bulb needs to be replaced because it is dangerous to walk in the dark!
The metaphors of light and darkness are favorites of the Apostle John in his letter. In John 1:4,5 and in John 3:19ff. John talks about Jesus as the light. It is no surprise to hear Jesus make this bold statement: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
In this text there are four lessons we can draw:
THE WORLD IS IN A STATE OF DARKNESS
Jesus’ statement about being the light implies that the world is in darkness without Him. The problem however is that the world does not realize it’s in darkness. It believes it is “enlightened.” The world relies on man’s ability and the supremacy of scientific inquiry. However all the knowledge amassed in the past centuries has resulted in what Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, “it gives us a knowledge of life in one dimension only. Current wisdom has a knowledge of the biological and mechanical but that’s it. Lot’s of knowledge but no answers. There is no knowledge of the soul, or the eternal….there is no purpose of direction.
We will not solve the problems of the world with the wisdom of the night
Consider a comparison of the thinking of the light and the darkness.
LIGHT: “train up a child in the way they should go…” DARK: “We need values neutral education”
LIGHT: “teach the commands of God to your children…at all times” DARKNESS: “We must separate the church and state….no God-talk in school”
LIGHT: “flee sexual immorality” DARKNESS: “let’s provide opportunities for safe sex.”
LIGHT: “trust in the Lord” DARKNESS: “trust no one”
LIGHT: “you shall not kill” DARKNESS: “physician assisted suicide”
LIGHT: “forgive” DARKNESS: “sue”
LIVING IN THE LIGHT IS PREFERABLE TO LIVING IN DARKNESS
Living in the light brings eternal life. Jesus tells us He is the “light of life” As Lloyd-Jones says, “We have tried knowledge, we have tried education, we have tried political enactments, we have tried international conferences, we have tried them all but nothing avails. Is there no hope? Yes, there is abundant and everlasting hope: ‘Ye must be born again’. What man needs is not more light; he needs a nature that will love the light and hate the darkness.” This is what the Light alone can do.
- Living in the light brings true freedom. You cannot be free until you are set free from what enslaves you. And you cannot be set free until you face the truth. The light shows us the real problem of our sin and then points in the direction of the cross where we find true freedom.
- Living in the Light gives life purpose and perspective. The light shows us the path so we know where we are going. No more aimless wandering there is purpose to our life.
- Living in the light brings enjoyment and an appreciation of beauty. When was the last time you admired a diamond in the dark? Or the last time you admired the beauty of a rose in the darkness? There is no last time because there is no first time! We cannot enjoy beauty while we are living in the darkness.
- Living in the light brings energy and vitality. On the gloomy days we are all sluggish. But when the sun comes out we are energized.
- Living in the light deals a death blow to fear. When you were small and you thought there were monsters under the bed how did your parents dispel your fear? They turned on the light! We now know that we belong to the Father and He is good. This knowledge takes away the fear from living.
WALKING IN THE LIGHT REQUIRES A BOLD STEP OUT OF THE DARKNESS
Jesus says we must FOLLOW him. This is not simply mental assent. It is a commitment like a soldier following the orders of the commander. It involves:
- Giving attention to His instruction. We find this in the Bible. We must read the Scriptures not for information but for instruction in daily living.
- It means seeking FIRST His kingdom. Who or what do you seek first? The advance of medicine? The resources of academia? Old-fashioned human effort? The advice of public opinion? Like most, we often turn to the Lord AFTER we have tried all the other avenues. True followers turn to Christ first.
- It means pursuing His honor not our own. The irony is that when we seek the honor of the Lord, we find that we become most alive.
- It means personal involvement. No arm’s length commitment here . . .those who walk in the light are more than observers.
THOSE WHO WALK IN THE LIGHT BECOME LIGHTS IN THE DARKNESS
In Matthew 5 we are told, “You are the light of the world.”
A child went to Europe with his parents and when he returned his Sunday School teacher asked him to describe the cathedrals and tell his classmates about the saints. He looked puzzled for a minute and then said, “O, the saints, they are the ones who reflect the light!” Indeed.
We are to reflect the light of Christ in our daily living. This means not keeping silent about God’s standards . . . even if it brings hatred.
We are not the light . . . we REPRESENT the light. In the old days a little boy watched the man come down the street to light the street lamps. He said to his parents, “Look there is someone poking holes in the darkness”. This is a grand description of the one who walks in the light.
Where do you look for enlightenment? The news, the library, the classroom, the therapist, the physician or the Lord?
- Where do you draw your values? From the light or the darkness?
- Where do you turn in times of trial? The darkness or the light?
- Who do you represent in your life? The Darkness or the Light?
- Where do you find yourself? Poking holes in the darkness or wandering lost in the darkness? If you are still in the darkness the Savior invites you to join Him in the light. He says He is the light of the WORLD. That includes you. Take that first step into the light today.
1. Place a candle, light bulb or flashlight on your desk or work station as a reminder that Jesus is the TRUE light.
2. Place a note on the mirror you stand before the most. Write this question: “Do you see a reflection of Jesus in this mirror?”
May God use you to poke holes in the darkness in the lives of those around you.