Another Friday night is in the books. The ladies are hugging; the bros are bro-fiving, and everyone is taking off from the man cave to sneak in before curfew – maybe one or two minutes after curfew. As your favorite group of people disappear into the black, chilly evening, you head back inside, and your thoughts begin to race about how you rocked as a host and how perfect the hangout went. The night started with some pizza, transitioned into catch phrase, and ended with everyone taking out their flashlights and shining them around the well-lit room. You couldn’t have imagined a more perfect nigh…. Wait. What?
Shining your flashlight in a well-lit room – this might not be everyone’s favorite activity, but it definitely cracks the top five. And WHEW! We sure are good at it. There’s nothing quite like having a nice, cozy, warm, bright room to shine a flashlight in! Or put a spotlight in… or light a candle in… Oh, now I see where this is going.
Light is something that humans are naturally drawn towards. Whether it’s at the end of a tunnel or the lamp in our living rooms, light is something that people constantly want to be surrounded by. It feels kind of nice sitting next to a fire on a cloudy, autumn night. But what if the fire went out? Suddenly things are not so nice anymore, and our instincts scramble for anything else that might be able to give us some clarity – some form of illumination to give us comfort. Because you see, by nature, we’re all scared of the dark. And there is only one cure for that.
Christian living in the church community really is not all that hard all the time. Learning about God in all of the subject areas is followed by catechism, which is followed by hanging out with school friends, which takes us all the way through the week until it’s time to straighten our ties and curl our hair on Sunday morning. This schedule of life is fantastic. Living a life of holiness is seldom even mentioned because that’s just what we do; it is part of the schedule. It is part of the routine. Everybody’s flashlights are on, and everything is 20/20.
Now it’s graduation. Next thing you know, you are nailing trim at the jobsite, or booking your basic classes to get college started. You still get to see your Christian high school friends a couple times a week. And when you do, the conversations are mature: often talking about life goals, your developing roles in the church body, and other wholesome things. You can almost feel yourself growing into an adult – ready for anything. That light is on full blast in an already bright room.
Then you hop in the car the next morning and go where you need to go. No longer are your childhood friends around – instead replaced with coworkers and fellow college kids. The conversations here are much different than what you’re used to. There are jokes about sex, some swearing, and more than a few bad habits to indulge in. Suddenly, everything grows very dark. The holy conversations that you participate in with your church friends are not taking place here. It’s not high school anymore. The calendar is marked a year ahead, and that schedule of life that we used to enjoy is no longer an expected routine. That warm, comfy fire is extinguished. We cannot see clearly anymore. Sure, there’s a flashlight on your phone you could use. But the pitch black isn’t so bad. And besides, you only use the flashlight when it’s bright outside.
Wait. What? In the midst of blinding darkness, we keep the light off. And we only switch it on once things start to brighten up again? You’re right. It doesn’t make any sense. So then why are we doing it?
The calling for Christians to live a life of holiness is a difficult task. But while people stand in the midst of their Christian circles, with encouragement and aid on every side, it is made significantly easier. This fact is a huge positive. The communion of the saints is a great benefit in the life of a believer. As we stand in the midst of the church, we grow in our knowledge of God, allowing us to experience a fuller relationship with Him. And as we strive for holiness, we are able to see the examples of church members around us that help push us in this calling to fight against sin and to put on righteousness. By nature, we enjoy being in the midst of this light, as we should. We soak it up. We grow from it. And we are better because of it.
But when the lights around us disappear, what happens to our light? Do we keep it on and let it guide us through situations that tempt us to sin? Even more importantly, do we keep it on in the hopes that another in the darkness might see it and follow it as well? Or do we blend into the blackness? Do we allow the sin around us to scare us into extinguishing that light? Or even worse yet, do we become of a part of and enjoy the darkness for a time when no other lights can be seen?
Going along with the world is an easy thing to do. Parties are fun. Swear words flow easily off of our tongues. Getting buzzed is addicting. And what’s worse is that keeping these things in the darkness is easy to do while still maintaining a resemblance of light. While we prefer to be in the light, it does not take long for our eyes to adjust to the dark. While it’s still a pitch-black night, we can begin to make out the shapes of objects in the darkness. While things may appear to be brightening, it is only making us more prepared to justify growing comfortable with and living in the darkness. We must not allow ourselves to adjust to the dark.
In the calling to witness, it is so important that people in the world take notice that we are different. Fitting in is easy. If a coworker cracks perverted jokes, it would be easy to laugh, and respond with another one. Hitting up a party is a quick way to get to know college kids. But if we turn off our lights to fit in with people in the world, then we are turning off our desire to live a holy life, and quitting our job as Christians to be an example of Christ in pure living.
Adding more light to a well-lit situation has never hurt anything. But one might also argue that it is not living up to its full potential. There is a need for a blinding light that helps others see their way out of the incapacitating darkness. There is a need to be an example of holiness that others can latch on to as they seek to develop a closer relationship with God. Let us be the city on a hill; an example to others that will not be hid.
Philippians 2:14-16: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”