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You are the light of the world –
like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.
Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand,
where it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see,
so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father
The pilot of a small single engine plane …
had just taken off at the darkest time of the night from Love Field in Dallas in Fall of 2015 when without any warning, the unthinkable occurred and the plane experienced a complete electrical failure. Though the engine was still running, this 3 am traveler found himself literally flying blind and desperate in pitch black conditions to return to the airport he had just left if he could only somehow find the runway lights. But circling in the darkness was proving unsuccessful and without a functioning radio, he dialed 911 on his cell phone and was fortunately able to get reconnected to Air Traffic Control in the Love Field tower via an emergency operator. Once the pilot was informed of his true location, he was guided back in a direction that allowed him to see those oh so precious runway lights . . and an eventual safe landing.
Have the lights “gone out” for you a time or two this year? Found yourself flying blind and desperate for a course that will get you out of the confusion and hopelessness that darkness and uncertainty offers
I have been there several times . . just in this last year alone. Things went dark in Ohio . . oppressive clouds of closed doors and defeat circled overhead in Tennessee . . confusion came calling in Washington and Texas . . indefinite transition paralyzed hope in Oregon . . and unadulterated evil nearly swallowed the light in North Carolina. I have become more than familiar with the heavenly 911 operator and even still at this moment long for those precious runway lights that assure me I have made it home.
Though the confession may scarcely find it’s way to their lips, this describes the present far too real quest of countless lives circling aimlessly within range of your life and mine . . except they have no Rescuer or Air Traffic Controller for the soul if you will.
God’s solution? Let His light shine in the darkness . . point the way home.
This is what I love about Christmas, for not only light, but the very glory of God explodes on the dark canvas of a sin-torn world , , a star points the way, angelic announcements turn night into day, blinded eyes are opened . . One is born on a dark, obscure night who is both heralded and self-designated as The Light of The World, and His name is Jesus . . the One who saves.
His plan defied logic for His mission became our commission . . His plan? To touch the darkness by putting His light in each of us. His promise? To never leave. His pronouncement? To those who turn from sin and self-reliance to Him . . well, “You are the light of the world”. His charge? Don’t waste your candle, don’t snuff your wick, don’t diminish your light.
How do we do that?
How do we get our light stuck under a basket? How has the church as a whole become such a big religious machine that falls so miserably short of sustained revival, spiritual awakening and irresistible love for all? How did we become so dependent on program over prayer and so fixated on personal plans over people? How is it that we so easily abandon our positions in the Tower and find a way to be stuck on our own “happy ever after” while too many souls to count are circling the night skies in 3 am despair?
Did we somehow think that love and loyalty to the Babe of Bethlehem would find an acceptable plan and a path around our cross even though there was no way to avoid His?
Just what does a religious life that refuses to embrace our God-appointed cross look like?
- Dropped commitments – we are over-scheduled, over-scattered and ripe with a consistent lack of consistency and follow through – carrying the name Christian should demand different but our all-pervasive lip-service Christianity is demoralizing to our brothers and sisters in Christ and of little interest to those who have yet to know Him
- Discrimination – we want all the grace and inclusion the Gospel can offer for ourselves but routinely close others out from our lives (including family) as though we are somehow morally superior – carrying the name Christian should demand different but our caste-system clique-filled country club Christianity is destructive to our brothers and sisters in Christ and full of the same stench that makes the politics and entertainment community so empty
- Self-obsession – we are so fixated on getting others to notice us, connect with us, value us, listen to us, we don’t even have a clue how to come alongside of others with the goal to only ask selfless questions and listen, understand, encourage, embrace and lock arms – carrying the name Christian should demand different but our Facebook Christianity trivializes the body of Christ and frankly makes Rotary Clubs look like on-fire missions of mercy and generosity.
Lives nearby this Christmas are calling for help and desperate for “real”, “authentic” answers . . answers that aren’t so much measured by wise words, but well-lived lives that . . . light the way home.
3 Christmas Reflections
- When we forget to take up our cross by becoming careless with commitments and push back on self-denial, we become the salt that has lost it’s saltiness and the light that is tragically placed under a bowl
- When we forget to take up our cross by fixating on validation to the point of excluding others and push back on gratitude, we will incessantly point to our victimization instead of the lavish love of heaven poured out from cradle to the cross and fail at being His agents of mercy and grace
- When we forget to take up our cross by becoming drunk with narcissism and push back on loyalty to mission, we become the latest version of lifeless religion that is addicted to our comfort over His calling.
Jesus said to his disciples,
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways,
take up your cross, and follow me.
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.
But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.