Every year as we move into the Christmas season I find myself thinking of John Lennon’s lyrics: “And so this is Christmas.And what have we done.Another year over - a new one just begun.”It’s that phrase “And what have we done” that gets me thinking each year.It seems that each year, many within the world of Christendom, become more “doom and gloomy” over the state of world that we live in.It seems to compel us to non action and to simply hold on for dear life; hoping and praying that Jesus will return and straighten things up.“Let’s face it” we say, “The world is going to hell in a hand basket and there is nothing we can do about it.”My sense is that in many respects we have allowed those, in the world, who propagate the doom and gloom gospel to influence ideology and theology of the church.The more we buy into this, the more we miss the true light that Christmas speaks of.Essentially, Christmas has become less about Christ’s first advent and more about looking forward to His second because we see no light in the world.In so many respects, we have become blind - not from the brilliance of God’s light but to the very light itself..How then do we reconcile Jesus own words “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” with the doom and gloom gospel that we now espouse?
I think in order to answer this we need to go back to the very beginning of scripture.Let’s remember according the epistle of 1 John, God is light.When He began to create He started with light. In Genesis 1:3 we read that God said “Let there be light and there was light.”The simple act of God speaking brought light to the darkness.Louie Giglio, in describing this event, suggested that when God commanded it, “light came flying out of the mouth of God travelling at 186,000 miles per second”.What made Genesis 1:3 so significant then, to its original audience and what makes it so significant and important to us as we read it today, is the preceding verse:“The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”Truthfully, the earth is not formless now - though one could argue that the sin of man has destroyed some of its form and its beauty.It’s certainly not void, God’s creation has spread and multiplied throughout the earth.As to darkness- maybe half of a 24 hour period is dark (though that changes from season to season) and yet even then the ingenuity and creativity of man (which is a wonderful gift from almighty God, I might add) has enabled us to harness energy and create light in those places that have never seen the light of day.R. C. Sproul suggests that, the language used to describe the non-substance and formlessness of the earth, was the type of thing that spoke of the greatest fears of ancient peoples.To be formless, to be nothing, to be in darkness was the most terrible thing imaginable.Yet, this was how the writer of Genesis described the status of the world before God spoke and created the light.As I write this, I am reminded of my times on Lake Temiskaming in Northern Ontario during my annual family vacations.The lake was known for freak storms coming up and the weather changing in a few short seconds.As a general rule, we have been wise enough to get our boats into shore before the weather really turned.Now, I am no meteorologist, but I have spent enough time on lakes to know that a weather system hovering over a body of water has a huge influence over it: temperature, pressure, current, and clarity (to name a few) are all impacted by it.This analogy, I think, works as a comparison to that creation event when the Spirit of God (hovering over the waters) spoke in a thundering voice for light to come into being.For the first time, darkness was permeated with light and driven back.And the light has never relented, never stopped pushing forward and never for even a second stopped shining. As the apostle John said, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”Usually, I am an NASB type of guy when I read the scriptures but I prefer the ESV rendering that I have just quoted from John 1:5. The Greek word used can be translated “to take” or “to reach” or the rendering I prefer “overcome”.In fact one source even suggested the rendering that “the darkness could not put it (the light) out”.
The scriptures from the beginning to end communicate that God is continually revealing His great and glorious light to the world again and again.To Adam and Eve: the promise that one would come, who would crush the head and work of the serpent - a message of the triumph of light.There is the revelation of God’s plan to Abraham, that through him all the nations would be blessed - a message of the triumph of the light.Moses, on Mt. Sinai, revealed the character and holiness of God through the law.Interestingly enough, Moses was not able to look on the face of God because he would die at the sight.How bright is that light?What about the burning bush and Moses having to take his shoes off?Now I know that this is not “light” imagery, but think about it.The ground was Holy because all mighty God was present.If the author of all light is omnipresent, doesn’t that mean that He is everywhere?If He is, then all ground is Holy and the light of God continues to shine in the darkness in every corner of the globe and the farthest deepest reaches of space.
The imagery of light continues with the people of Israel being led by a fiery pillar- in essence a bright light that was the presence and guidance of the Lord.When Moses came away from time with almighty God, what happened to his face?That’s right it shone- from the simple act of being in the presence of the Light.To quote the writer of Hebrews: “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of” the prophecies pertaining to the coming of the light (Isaiah 9:2, 42:6, 49:6, 51:4, 60:1-3).Quite simply, I would argue that God has continually spoken light into the darkness.He and His word continue to shine and it gets brighter through the ages as the world turns from darkness and enters that glorious light.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the NT writer’s perspective on this as well.Let’s go back to John 1.I can’t say that I hear the beginning of John’s gospel read very often as part of our narrative review of Advent and I feel like it is some of the most important revelation to the entire Christmas story.It weaves a new strand into the Genesis narrative.John’s opening statements in his gospel speak of the Word that was God and was eternally existent with God.Through this Word all things came into being.God’s Word was what brought form and order and substance to creation- in essence life. God said “LET THERE BE LIGHT!!!!”The Spirit of God speaking through John adds to narrative saying “In that Word was life and that life was the light of men.”This is so important.In Jesus (the full revelation of God to humanity), God had once again sown light into the world- and it brought life.John goes on to tell the reader that the Word of God became flesh and dwelt amongst us.The Light was no longer something that was apart from humanity, but walking amongst humanity, revealing the Almighty and His character and grace.The world saw fully revealed in Christ who the Light is- who God is.The first advent of Christ was an event like no other in history, when God who is light is revealed fully for the world to see.
Jesus no longer walks in person amongst us, this is true, but the Light still shines in the lives of believers.The spirit of Almighty God, in us, has made us to shine as light in the darkness.Yesterday, as I was preaching a message about this, I was reminded of one of those most profound songs I sang as child.Perhaps you know it:
Verse 1 This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
Verse 2 – EVEN MORE AWESOME:
Hide it under a bushel- NO!!!!!
I’m gonna let it shine
Verse 3 – THE CHALLENGE:
Don’t let Satan blow it out – NO!!!!
I’m gonna let it shine
Verse 4 – OUR MISSION:
Shine that light till Jesus comes
I’m gonna let it shine
Amazing the things we are taught as children that are stolen by the Godless ideologies of the world.The light of the first advent still burns bright even when we forget.The call on our lives is the simple truth of that song.A city on a hill cannot be hidden.It reminds me of times that I have been driving through the mountains and foothills in western Canada and the light of towns and cities would shine forth and actually guide towards them.Isn’t this the call of God on the believer today- to shine the light till Jesus comes?Are we not to stand and live in an attitude of victory and proclaim both the first advent boldly as well as the second?Today, I aim the guns of this truth at myself and anyone else reading and ask the question:Have we become blind to the light, because we have focused on the darkness?Have we lost hope in a season when it shines more brightly than almost any other? This year, I choose to live victoriously and to proclaim that light has entered the world in the past, but also presently and will also shine into the future.God open my eyes that I may be blinded by your light and not to it.I close with this:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth,
Will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glorious grace.
Thank you Father God for continuously shining your light on humanity.