Christians are called on in Scripture and from the pulpits and podiums of our land to be many different things as examples to the world. One of the most common and often used symbols for Christians in service is to be the light of the world. I don’t think anyone reading this column today would doubt that our world in many ways is in darkness. I have just read the morning news and I was astounded at what was being covered, and I am not referring to the mounting debt of our nation, the seeming inability of our elected officials to get along well with each other, or even the famine in Somalia and Africa.
One of the news stories that crossed my desk this morning was about a huge ring of criminals specializing in attacking, luring, and hurting our children. At least 50 people from various countries have been arrested in connection with this damaging Internet ring of child pornography and sexual deviation. How sad that we not only have to watch our children outside our homes, but now we must be extra cautious when they are inside what once was thought of as a safe environment.
I clearly remember teaching courses a few years ago on “stranger danger” and warning kids not to accept rides with strangers or to accept gifts including candy, fruit and drinks in their neighborhoods or school districts, even on hot days when they might be welcomed. The advent of modern communication has been wonderful, but it has also opened doors to mass criminal intrusion as well. Parents must be ever watchful, be willing to supervise and to value the time they have with the children in their lives.
This darkness is evident in crime statistics, deaths, murders, rapes, robberies an evident disregard for the sanctity of human life, and in the way we treat relatives, neighbors and friends. We need more light in every area of our lives from homes to neighborhoods, schools, universities, and yes, in our churches and especially our youth groups. Kids are begging for light to be shone brightly for them.
The work and wonder of light is enormous when we take the time to think about it seriously. “I was blind, but now I see,” are some of the words to one of the most favorite hymns of all time. It is up to Christian people to shine the light so that all can see.
We also learn from Scripture that the wicked love darkness and that they really have little desire to see the light until their hearts have been changed and their sins forgiven. “… Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil” (John 3:19b). Verses 20 and 21 of the same chapter go on to explain this truth clearly: “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved (examined carefully). But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:20, 21).
My uncle often said that nothing good happens to teens after midnight when they are left to their own devices. Remember that it is usually quite dark around and after midnight, and I am beginning to believe that his wisdom was right on target. Darkness tends to offer cover for our ill doing and getting into trouble whether we are young or old, or so it seems to me.
Light is a wonderful gift if we are only wise enough to see and accept it for ourselves. Ephesians 5:14 speaks to the gift of life that Christ is so willing to bestow on any who will ask for it. The wonderful thing about gifts from Christ is that He gives to all men liberally and doesn’t scold folks for asking. I can remember that there were times in my life as a teen and young person when I would have to ask my mother for something. I might end up getting whatever it was, but it was hardly worth the scolding or fussing I had to go through to obtain the victory. Christ is not like that. He gives genuinely and openly and willingly when we ask in His will.
And then there were the proverbial ball-tossing exchanges that went like this, “Oh, I don’t know about that. Ask your father.” And then Daddy would say, “It is OK by me. Clear it with your mother before you make your plans.” I hated that, too, as I remember, and my hearts go out to kids and teens that must go through that ordeal every time a decision is made about an outing, trip or guest. Parents should have rules and stick together. A house divided cannot stand, especially in this day and age, and it only confuses children to be torn between the two adults who often barter for their own sanity and good.
When we think of good works being done, we usually think of these selfless acts being accomplished in the light. We don’t usually mind people knowing about our good works, sharing in the goal and participating when they’re examined by the light of day and of God’s Word.The truest or best picture we have of light is God or Jesus, the Light of the World. “This is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all son” (1 John 1:5-7).
Brenda Cannon Henley is an award-winning journalist and writer living on the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast. Having enjoyed more than four decades in ministry, Brenda shares her columns with our readers and works with churches and faith-based programs nationwide. She can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.