We are entering the Season of Light, the Light Festival, the Christmas season when so much of the world decorates trees, wreathes, streetlamps, and even homes, with spectacular displays of light. Even those parts of the world that may not traditionally be Christian do so. There is an evident way in which the world loves light.
Yet truthfully, there is an equally evident way in which the world loves darkness. The apostle John made that clear when he wrote: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)
It’s a sad irony: Jesus, whose birth is the center of this season, declared himself to be “the light of the world.” (John 8:12) But, though much of the world might willingly accept him as a man born two millenia ago, so much of the world rejects him as the divine light.
I love the biblical theme of “Light.” One of my favorite verses about it is Eph. 5:8. I’m stirred by the author Paul’s language, yet doubt that I fully understand it’s theological depth. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”
When I teach on this verse with men, I use contemporary language to make its startling impact clear: “If there was one word that accurately describes who we were at one time, it’s the word ‘darkness.’ We were filled with, defined by and controlled by darkness. Darkness is who we were.”
Strong words. But the rest of that verse is even more startling! Again, in my words to men, “But now, because of our relationship with Jesus, if there is one word that accurately defines who we are it’s…light! Can you believe it?! Light! Light is who we are now!”
Yes, of course, we are still extremely aware of our shortcomings, our struggles with temper, our vulnerability to temptation, our tendency toward selfishness, but the condition of our souls is now…light. How can this be? Three crucial words, “in the Lord.” This fundamental, eternal transformation in the nature of our souls is due to Jesus.
Jesus’ life and his death changed everything for us and about us. Everything. Even though we may be discouraged by our continuing tendency to act “darkly,” the truth about us is we are light. This is shockingly wonderful news, but there’s more.
In the last phrase of verse 8, Paul makes his final point, “Live as children of light.” In today’s language he might say, “So for goodness sake, since this is true about you, live like it!” The redemption of our souls is taken care of, now we should live in such a way that reflects that truth. Not just for our benefit, but so others see light in our lives. Paul makes this clear in the verses that follow 8.
But Paul wasn’t the first to give believers this same charge. Jesus, who in John 8 referred to himself as being the light of the world, says to his followers, “You are the light of the world…In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14, 16) We, who were once defined by darkness are now defined by light. Further, Jesus who is the light of the world, uses the exact same words about us who follow him! Remarkable.
This Christmas, the Season of Light, we celebrate the miracle of Jesus’ birth as a vulnerable child. Let us also celebrate the stunning truth that his life and death are so transformational for us that we are now light-bearers for him. We are children of light. A world in darkness desperately needs to see the light we bring this Christmas season.
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, their daughter Gemma and son Calvin. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.