My fire is lit by You, by true pure love, pursuing, wooing, just because You made us for Yourself, so when we open up and let you shine within, you light us up. So, like a candlestick melting down, quietly cheering all around, I’ll glow where you choose to light the dark. Where you place me I will be Your loving spark . . . spreading the fire, the flame, the light.
We just celebrated Christmas, and in my house we are not yet finished: the candles and lights are still all around, waiting for the day when we welcome in a new year. The advent candles are on the dining room table, and every evening we still light them all. Now the song that we sing is “Joy to the World,” because the anticipation of Messiah’s first coming has been resolved in the celebration of his birth.
This year the symbolism of “light” has been made yet more potent by its underlining in Week Three of the Advent readings we’ve been using as a family: “The Promised One,” from Christianity Today 2022. Consider these verses that were contemplated as the six days passed:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isa. 9:2 NIV)
“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, (Isa. 42:6 NIV)
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.” (Jn. 8:12 NIV)
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (Jn. 3:21 NIV)
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”1 made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (2 Cor. 4:6 NIV)
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome1 it. (Jn. 1:5 NIV)
That last verse has a deeper meaning than we can see at first glance, which is why there is a note on the word “overcome”: 1 Or understood. It is because the Greek word that is in the text contains the idea of “grasping,” which can be taken as grabbing it or understanding it. Either meaning is powerful here. The light, which is God revealed to the world in the incarnation of Jesus, has not been put out by the darkness that is all around in the world. It was shining in a special way while he was in human form on earth, and it still shines. The dark world usually does not understand what the light really means, or where it originates. Nevertheless, when someone chooses to personally come into the light of the world, they come out of that darkness (Jn. 8:12). And they then understand who God is as they come to know Christ with increasing understanding as they keep walking in the light (2 Cor. 4:6).
Then there is transformation. Knowing the light of the world (Jn. 8:12), those people become the light of the world!!
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matt. 5:14 NIV)
For months now we’ve been going through Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, and we did not skip over this. But having finished two-thirds of the recorded message, it is more than ever clear to me that it teaches us how to be that light. Just as God told his people, before he came as the Christ, that he would “make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,” (Isa. 42:6), he makes his disciples into a light for those who do not know him yet. The Sermon shows us how to let that light shine.
“To let one’s light shine is to live in such a way as to manifest the presence of the kingdom. . . .The disciples—the blessed recipients of the kingdom—are thus of vital importance for the accomplishment of God’s purpose in the world. They constitute the salt and light without which the earth cannot survive and remains in darkness. Their mission is accomplished, however, not only in word (cf. [Mat.]10:7; 28:19–20) but in the deeds of their daily existence. Others observing their conduct will know that the priorities of these persons have changed—that before them is something of inestimable value, something that gives light and results in the glorifying of God.”
Our conduct is thus what shines that light of Jesus through us to the world. As Jesus detailed it in his Sermon, that light radiates to others when we show love not only to our friends but to our enemies (Mat. 5:43-48), and when we serve and love only one Master, our God and Father (Mat. 6:24). Then we can be like a tree that bears good fruit (Mat. 7:11-19). Our actions actually should surprise others! And they count!
There are many times when we cannot say the words we would love to say to point certain people to Jesus, the Light of the World. But we can live them out. We can show our love for him by worshiping, by singing, by promoting and doing what pleases him. And we can love the people that he puts in our life path, whether they love us or not, and whether we approve of all their choices or not.
We can continue to grow in our knowledge of Jesus and, by spending time with him in intimate communication, we become able to radiate his light in an increasingly noticeable way. All of this must be done for his glory, not ours (Mat. 6:1). We are reflecting his light, who he is, because he lives in us!
In this way I see myself as a candle lighting the dark. Even as my wick, or life, gets shorter and shorter, the light of Christ can still shine to be seen by the community around me. That is how tiny me, one out of billions on earth, can be a light in this world. You can, too!
“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!”
 Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 1–13, vol. 33A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1993), 100.
 Ibid., 102.