Are we light, or do we simply reflect it?
There are two ways to increase light. You can power light and set it on a lampstand. Then you can increase the light through mirrors set where they catch the light and reflect it out. Most talk of us being reflected light, and that’s true if we stand in proximity to Jesus so we catch His rays and mirror it out. But in this passage of Matthew, Jesus doesn’t say we are the reflection of light. He says we ARE light. How is that?
What makes light light? Power. A spark to a wick makes candle light. Oil in a lamp with a wick sparked to life creates oil lamp light. Electricity pouring into a bulb’s filament lights it up.
Even a sun has power from inside that lights it up. The moon is dead marble that reflects the light of the sun in the night sky: it’s brightness, size, and shape dependent on proximity to the sun it reflects. The sun is powered from within. As long as it’s light is powered, it shines. When power ceases, it dies, and light stops.
When we stand close to Jesus, desiring to emulate Him, He can bounce Himself off of us. But when we so greatly desire to be like Him that we begin to surrender ourselves to Him, He sparks Life in us, filling us with power that makes light. We become light as He is light.
That is what God wants from us. As we draw so near to God that we let go of our fleshly thoughts, desires, and ways, He fills us with Himself, empowering us to be as He is. As He pours Himself into and through us, He lights us up to be as He is. As Paul says, “… it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me ….” (Galatians 2:20 NASB)
God did not make us simply to reflect His image. He made us to bear His image as fruit from a tree. Fruit comes from within. As we get so close to God, so intimate with Him, we become one as He and Jesus are one. His essence in us produces Life’s power that bears forth the very image of God in us.
We can’t be God. Only He is the power. But we can be so filled with and fueled by Him as to be sparked to Life, abundant and full, becoming the spitting image of God, bearing forth love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Powered by Him: as He is, so also are we in His image, born from within.
As He is, so are we, by the power of God’s grace working in us. Only then will we BE LIGHT, as He says we are.
“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
I know I’ve shared this before, but I got this wall hanging right after we bought this house. I was walking through Walmart, talking to God about feeling lost, unable to see the path ahead. I had that sense of lostness for awhile, as God started moving our hearts from our home and life of 32 years, to new horizons on unknown paths. When we found our new home, that lostness multiplied. So that day in Walmart, as I talked to my God about these things, this painting caught my eye and God said clearly to my heart, “I know the path ahead. You just need to trust Me for the next step.”
I am still on this unclear path today, taking one step after another by faith. It’s been a strange story WE have walked , but beautiful in its formation. We traversed through joy and laughter, sorrow with tears, sickness and the shadow of death, coming to the end of eras leading into new beginnings. I can’t see clearly the eternal fruit of it, but I know it’s there.
As this scripture and thought role through me, I feel as blinded by fog as the day God led me to this life portrait. Thankfully, I know who holds my hand and guides every step. Continuing trust in Him for the stepping stones of this strange path finds such great peace in this fog filled life.
God is so faithful to direct our paths.
As I seek the Lord today, He warns me against pride where my part in helping my kids know Him is concerned. I am often overwhelmed with grief and feelings of failure as I watch my children and grandchildren struggle in these days. “Surely I failed to give my all or they would not struggle like they do in their Christian walk.” He warns me to remember that it is He who draws them. I can’t do that, and the pride revealed in my failure complex can actually bring destruction to my ability to be all God desires I be to them.
My responsibility is to plant seeds of truth, water with love and grace, and pray for them in faith as I set the example of Christlikeness in my encounters with them. I cannot save them. It is not my responsibility. But I can continue to do what I know to do and have done, live Christ before them and trust God, who makes my seeding, watering, and praying effective for His glory, to produce the crop He desires in them.
“So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.”
1 Corinthians 3:7 NASB
“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.””
1 Corinthians 1:30-31 NASB
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Galatians 2:20 NASB
“A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. …”
The wealth of this man was not the problem. God blesses us with wealth and requires us to steward all He gives us in ways that honor Him. This man kept the laws of God and most likely gave to the synagogue and to the poor as God requires. But his heart had apparently fallen into trusting his wealth and taking pride in it, giving it the place of true treasure in his heart, a place belonging only to God. So Jesus points out to him the thing that stands in the way of His right relationship with God.
“… And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. …”
Jesus had a purpose in making this distinction, both for this man’s eternity, and in training those who followed Him. You see, it was long believed that those with wealth were wealthy because they were right with God and pleasing to Him. They surely had a place in Heaven. Hearing Christ’s comment led an astonished disciple to ask,
“…“Then who can be saved?”
Thank God! Jesus assures our hearts, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”
We get our eyes off of reliance on God too easily, trusting in self, wealth, kings, etc., turning God’s blessings into a god of our heart. God lovingly points these out to us so we may possess the relationship with Him that He waits to give us.
Nicodemus walked away, dejected, that day. But he apparently took to heart Jesus’s words and became one of the secret followers that helped to bury Jesus, and He stood against those plotting against Him. He may have been a coward and given to riches, but I believe God did the impossible in his heart and we will meet him one day.
How about you and me? What stands as hindrance to our relationship with and testimony of God in our lives? Will we let God work the impossible in us to get our eyes rightly focused for our eternal good and His eternal glory? Today is the day of salvation, for we don’t know that we will have a tomorrow. Choose well the Treasure of your heart.
…the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. …
— John 5:36-37
We are the continuation of the testimony of the reality of Christ when we obey God in accomplishing the work He prepared beforehand, that we should accomplish in Jesus name and power. As God bore testimony of Jesus being all He said He was, so He does for us as we live Him, knowing it is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me. We live, accomplishing the Work God planned beforehand, that we should walk in them, “In Jesus name”: in His authority, as representing Him and His interests. (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:8-10)
What is the work we are to do? Here’s some initial thoughts. We are called and equipped to:
1. Pray in Jesus name, as authorized by Him and with His interests at heart as our first, most vital need and desire. (John 15:15-16; 1 John 5:14-16)
2. We are salt in the world. We are light as He is light, bearing forth the fruit of His Spirit (Matthew 5:13-16; John 15:1-17; Galatians 5:22-23). Thus we…
a. Love: as God loves, unconditionally and with our all for all time and in every situation, out of our who, unhindered by the do of those we love (1 John 4:7-21).
b. Rejoice with Spirit Joy: that joy in the Lord that is strength to us, filling us up, resting us, unhindered by life circumstance (Nehemiah 8:10-11; Romans 14:17; Romans 5:3, AMPC, 1 Peter 4:12-13).
c. Peace: that comes from God, beyond comprehension, umpiring life (Colossians 3:15; Romans 14:17)
d. Patience: enduring perseverance that stands firm in the wait with a good attitude and gratitude (Psalm 46:10; Ephesians 4:1-2; Hebrews 10:36; Colossians 3:12 see in Amplified Classic).
e-i. Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control: all of which (a-i) flow from who we now are in Christ Jesus, the image of God, living and active in us. Being God’s light, portraying the image of God in the world is the work of Christ by the power of His Spirit through us (Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Colossians 1:24).
3. Being ready in season and out of season to bear testimony of God’s work in us, His grace toward us (2 Timothy 4:1-2; 1 Peter 3:14-16).
4. Remaining in Christ, fully clothed in the new self with all humility, submitting to God and His way in all things and at all times (Titus 3:1; Colossians 3:1-17).
5. Bearing the armor of God in readiness to fight the good fight of faith at all times (Ephesians 6:10-18):
a. having our head – thought life – protected by faith in the salvation we have in Christ;
b. our breast – heart – covered with the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus that is ours to possess;
c. being girded, wrapped up, and held secure by truth;
e. having feet shod, covered and made ready wherever we go to carry the peace we have with God by the gift of Christ, sharing it with all we meet;
f. bearing God’s Word as a sword, which is able to pierce heart, bone, and marrow;
g. covered with faith as an impenetrable shield;
h. praying constantly in the Spirit, in constant communication with our God and King;
i. praying especially for those on the frontlines of our faith.
And there’s so much more:
Man and woman, together as one, loving, respecting, cherishing, nurturing, completing each other, raising up families to the glory of God.
People of God, the church, the very body of Christ, strengthening, encouraging, and helping each other be our best selves in Christ, the very image of God.
I could go on and on. Suffice to say, God did not leave us with little to do. We are a people of purpose.
Every breath is worthwhile and accomplishes God’s glory as we remember the call of God in bearing the image of God as light in a dark world. We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for we once were not a people, but now we are the people of God; we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, do dishes, or serve on a special call mission field, in whatsoever your hands find to do, do all to the glory of God, giving thanks to Him in Jesus name. (1 Peter 2:9-10; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17)
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
Satan looks for an opportune time to tempt us. In this account of Christ’s temptation, as in the temptation of Eve, we see that he watches for and taps into our wants, desires, needs, and longings. He watches for an instant of focus on a desire and pounces, first addressing that want with opportunity for fulfilling it. With Eve it was longing for a forbidden fruit. With Jesus, it was physical hunger.
The desire may not be a bad thing. Bread is not bad. It’s a staple and is a form of food that provides the best source of some vitally needed micro-nutrients. But Jesus recognized it was not God offering: not His hand, His timing, or His desire. So Jesus stood His ground and looked to the Bread of Life – the Living Word of God – for strength to withstand.
Next Satan turned to testing the rightful and true understanding of God’s Who – His intent. With Eve it was, “Did God really say…?” With Jesus, “You know You can safely do this I ask because of God’s promise to protect You.”
When God says, “Test Me in this,” as He did in Malachi’s instructions to encourage our faithful tithing with understanding that God meets faithful obedience with His ample supply, that is good. But Satan trying to challenge belief in God’s goodness and faithfulness is from evil intent. It is set to turn the heart to challenge God with an attitude of “prove it!” It is set to take advantage of the goodness of God with evil purpose.
And finally, Satan sets out to test our sincere trust in God, raising up doubts that lead us to fall away from Him. With Eve, he caused her to believe God was lying in order to keep her from a good that would make her as God is, knowing all. She forgot that she already possessed God’s image, having been made like Him, and was led to feel there must be more to have. With Jesus, Satan tried to set himself up as being as God, able to give Jesus the promised reward, and willing to do so without requiring Him to give Himself in a painful sacrifice.
Both Eve and Jesus had to decide if they trusted God and believed Him to be the Greater One. Eve failed and Adam willingly followed her lead, bringing us all here, to an ever growing evil age. Jesus, however, chose trust in God and won the day, along with our eternity. He is the example we must follow if we are to take temptation seriously, realize it’s intent, and walk in victory. In Him is Life, abundant and full, and Life is the Light of men.
Following Jesus, remaining in the Light of His countenance, we can realize when Satan has found opportunity with us, and trust that God will use it as opportunity for us to walk in victory as our desire for Him leads to seeking Him knowing we will find Him faithful.
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:6-10