The gospel moves us to live as disciples of Jesus.
Douglas C. Tomhave
Trapped. Nine days in absolute darkness. Twelve boys and their soccer coach sat with little hope in a deep cave in remote Thailand. They were lost. It looked like the flood waters would rise even more. No one could escape. Time was running out. All they could do was wait and hope that someone would respond or that help was on the way.
When a British diver emerged from the water into their darkness, he shined a small flashlight on the group. He asked if they were all okay. He said that help would be on the way. The light, to those living in the darkness, was blinding. But that light gave hope. That light meant rescue and life.
It’s a story that easily reminds us of our gospel rescue. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2). This prophecy made so many years ago by God was fulfilled. Jesus was the light that dawned. He rose up out of the waters of death and shined the light of his life onto a dying world. This rescue cost him his life. But his perfect life was exactly what he came to give. He actually lived as a sacrifice that God would accept. He conquered death to give life and hope to a dying people.
Jesus said about himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Everyone who follows the light of Jesus will walk in darkness no more. They have been rescued and given the light that leads to life.
This is your rescue too. Jesus’ light rescued you from certain death as his light shined on you through the waters of your baptism. Jesus says to you by faith, “Follow me, I know the way to light and life.” As a follower of Jesus, his light has shined on you and in you and changed everything. Not only has it changed where you are going, but it also has changed who you are until you get there.
We become light
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he described the change in us with these words: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
Jesus has completed his work here on earth. When Jesus ascended, his work of rescuing us was done. Jesus turned over the task of proclaiming the gospel of his complete victory to those who remained here on earth. Notice what Jesus says to his followers, “YOU are the light of the world.” When Jesus shines his light on you, you become a light to others. You have been chosen to be his light shining on a dying world
I recently presided over the funeral of a pastor who served for a time as a missionary in Asia. As his widow and family made their way to the front of church, you couldn’t help but notice the man who came to sit right up front with the children. He was Asian, clearly not part of the missionary’s natural family. Yet with a smile he called himself, “The favorite son.”
His contact with Christianity did not come from any formal missionary outreach or activity. His contact with the gospel came through the missionary’s Christian children who attended an international school. Through normal childhood activities, a friendship began. He was invited over to play and soon observed something different about this family. Over the years and experiences with the family, he saw the light of the gospel. He was included in their life, and eventually he became a Christian.
His conversion was not received well at his home. His father was a Muslim, and his mother was a Buddhist. When he became a Christian, his father threatened him and disowned him. He was kicked out of his home for a time. He stayed with the missionaries and others until he was received back home. Even though the parents never converted, the young man’s father confessed about the missionaries, “You Christians know how to be better parents to your children.”
Decades later, this Christian man flew across the country to be at the funeral with the family that shined the light of the gospel into his life. He saw their light—the light of Jesus—reflected in their lives.
You are light
Do you see yourself in this story? Jesus used the normal activities of children to shine his light into the darkness of a young man’s life. Jesus used normal family life to reflect his light to others that brought praise to his Father in heaven.
Of course, Jesus accomplishes his work through missionaries, pastors, and teachers. That work needs our support, our time, and our prayers. But Jesus also accomplishes his work through the daily activities of his followers. You are in someone’s story.
Jesus says, “You ARE the light of the world.” We need reminders to be who we are. You are the light of the world when you live your life as a Christian, whether you are a child playing in Little League or a parent on the bleachers, whether you are a senior in high school or a senior citizen in a nursing home, whether you are single in your 20s or a widower in your 80s, whether you have a house full of kids or are an empty nester, whether you are a recent convert or a lifelong Christian, whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. It may be in a conversation that stands up for the truth or a gentle deed that puts that truth into action. Your life is Jesus’ sermon to the world, letting “your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Stay close to Jesus. Be in his Word. Jesus will fill you with the light he expects to shine through you. Sometimes the results will be observable. Other times it may remain hidden. But all Jesus requires of you in life is to be a light in this world of darkness. Who knows what rescue Jesus is going to accomplish through you? Jesus may allow you to see what he is accomplishing even now through you. And when he returns, you will see it all clearly, and you will hear his voice announce to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant! . . . Come and share you master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23).
Doug Tomhave is pastor at St. Paul, Lake Mills, Wisconsin.
This is the final article in a six-part series on the power of the gospel.
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Author: Douglas C. Tomhave
Volume 105, Number 10
Issue: October 2018
Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2018
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