[Column] Arise and Shine!

Light is the first manifestation of God’s image (Genesis 1:3). The Scriptures say God and Christ are the true light (Revelations 22:5; John 8:15). The moment we become Christian we are transferred from the world of darkness to the world of light. The light that Christ emanates exists as the light that shines upon everyone (John 1:9; Ephesians 5:14). If we behold others with spiritual eyes, they appear as lights. Some are darker and some brighter.

40 years ago in New York, the Ringling Brothers Circus performed. During the performance, there was a power outage. It was less than a minute but the audience was silent in fear. On the stage was a trainer with four tigers ready for animal tricks. The animals inside the cage posed no threat to the audience. However, they were afraid that perhaps the trainer might be attacked. Amid dead silence, the sounds of whip and commands were heard from the circus ring. As the lights were turned back on, the audience gave a standing ovation. In the press conference held after the performance, the trainer said, “Even in darkness, the tigers can see me well. I must not let them know that I can’t see them so I act as if there were bright lights everywhere.” The trainer brought the wild beasts under control and survived his brush with death because he behaved as a man of light even in darkness. To triumph over the evil one and live a victorious life in this world of darkness, we must become the people of light.

Who gets the most spot light on stage is a protagonist. If we walk in God’s will, we will be radiant and live as the protagonists of the God’s wondrous drama. If we are made the children of light through Our Lord, we must bear such fruits of light as goodness, righteousness, and truth (Ephesians 5:8-9). What people do in darkness are shameful and reprehensible deeds. When we are exhorted by God’s Word, darkness and sin lose their holds.

Some time ago, a group of pastors visited North Korea. At the time, any form of exchange with North Korea was very rare and many were deeply concerned. Before arriving in Pyongyang, the pastors shared with one another their concerns: “All the hotels in Pyongyang I’m sure are intercepted. Please watch what you say.” “It’s not just audio interception we have to worry about. There must be surveillance cameras everywhere. Be extra careful.” At first, they said all these things in a jocular manner but later when they went into their rooms they felt as though they were being closely monitored. As a result, they were being extremely careful in their words and deeds. One of the pastors even shared that he had never lived such a pious and devout life in a closed space. He figured he could not walk around in his underwear let alone comfortable clothes under communist surveillance and slept with his proper attire on.

Just thinking of someone watching us causes us to be careful about our words and deeds. “The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works” (Psalms 33:13-15). John Calvin’s motto in life was “Coram Deo”, which literally means before the face of God. Because he knew that he was living his life before the face of God, he could not speak or behave licentiously. Instead, he lived a very pious life. Like Calvin, we too must attend to the small details of life and behave in an exemplary manner.

Even at this moment, God is watching and guarding us. If you are in darkness now, you must walk out into the light. If you are spiritually asleep, it is time to wake up (Ephesians 5:14). Let the light of Christ shine upon many people and this world through us and our church. “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you (Isaiah 60:1). The world needs the light of the Gospel and love of Christ.

A lady was severely ostracized and persecuted at her workplace for being a Christian. Overwhelmed with unbearable turmoil, she gave serious consideration to giving up her faith and visited her pastor. In her consultation, the pastor asked, “Where do you place a lamp?” As she grew hesitant and could not answer, the pastor continued, “Where there is darkness.” She was told that the reason for God’s placing her in such a workplace was to have her shine the light of life in darkness. A few weeks later, she visited the pastor with several female coworkers. “Pastor, she decided tonight to accept Jesus Christ. She is the thirteenth person at my work to have decided to believe in Christ.” While she was emanating the light of life without blaming the world of darkness, her workplace has become brighter. Can we not be like her?

Remember that you are the light in the Lord. You need to live as children of light (Eph 5:8). May many people around you be lighted through your life. May all of you arise, shine, and have a blessed and prosperous new year.

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