I am a huge fan of the show “Dad’s Army”. I cannot begin to count how many times I have seen it, in fact, some episodes I can say the lines before the characters on the screen! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the programme (is that possible?), one of the “nasty” characters in it is the ARP Warden Hodges (portrayed by the magnificent Bill Pertwee) with his catchphrase “put that light out!”
In truth, during the Second World War, the ARP did a valiant job in enforcing blackout restrictions (hence “put that light out!”), they were part of the rescue efforts when the bombs fell and they helped people to find shelter during a raid.
Light is one of those recurring themes in the Bible. Light was the first thing God created “Let there be light” (Genesis 1 vs. 3),and He separates light and dark day and night. In the Old Testament light is used as a symbol of goodness, righteousness, blessing the presence and the Holiness of God.
In that wonderful prologue of John’s gospel we are reminded that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. As FF Bruce once said;
A little candle can dispel a roomful of darkness and not be dimmed by it. Light and darkness are opposites, but they are not opposites of equal power (FF Bruce)
When Jesus spoke to the people of Israel about who He was and what His role was He describes Himself like this;
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8 vs. 12).
Light can be divided into two sources. Natural light – sunlight, the light that you see from stars. Artificial light – That is the sort that relies on an external power source.
Artificial light is not the same as natural light. Have you ever thought that we live in a world of artificiality. We have food and drinks with artificial sweeteners in them artificial colours in them. If you look at the list of ingredients in your food you are left wondering how much of it is real food. When you look at all the E numbers you are left in no doubt as to why the kids get hyper.
We have artificial fabrics, man-made fibres in our clothes. If the fibres are not man made then think about the colours you are wearing
We have cubic zirconium which is an artificial diamond. Ask the wife which one she would prefer and I can guarantee the diamond is more popular. Why? Because it’s real not fake.
When Jesus talks about being the light of the world He is talking about real light not artificial.
There are so many artificial lights available today. But what we discover is that they never bring us the satisfaction we hope for. Jesus came to bring us reality with God, not artificiality.
The Christian faith is not wrapped up in propositions and principles but rather in a person, and that person is Jesus; take Him out of the equation, and we have nothing. In Jesus we see what it truly means to live in relationship with God. In Jesus we see what it truly means to walk in step with the Holy Spirit.
Why settle for the artificial light, when you can have the real light?
But, there is another sense to the word “light” and it’s found in these words of Jesus;
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5 vs. 14)
I saw these words come to life when I was in the Judean desert. We were travelling on a coach at night and many of my travelling companions were asleep (I just couldn’t get off). It was absolutely dark outside so it was impossible to see anything, as we rounded a bend in the road up on a hillside you could see a city full of blazing light. A city on a hill cannot be hidden!
I see these words as an instruction from Jesus. We, the followers of Jesus, are to reflect the light of Jesus in our dark world. Our task is to show the difference Jesus can make and, in so doing, bring hope to a world in a world of darkness.
It’s not just about letting our light shine on a Sunday. We are to let our light shine on Mondays and Tuesdays, even on rotten Wednesday’s (I have always had a problem with Wednesdays!), right through the week.
It’s not just about our light shining when we are in church. It’s also about letting our light shine when we are in the big wide world too. You see, Jesus speaks about there being no place for secret discipleship. Matthew 5 vs. 15
No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. (Matthew 5 vs. 15)
The people that Jesus was speaking to lived in dark one-room houses. Within the main room a small clay oil lamp would be burning – it would be placed on a fixed lampstand. The last thing you would do is hide it a light that is covered is no use!
So, rather than “put that light out”, friends, we have to let the light shine and keep on shinning in the darkness.