I put up the Christmas tree last night and I must admit, I’m still adoring it today. It’s the homemade kind: fake tree adorned with ornaments we’ve collected over the years. It may be less attractive to someone who’s used to manufactured beauty. This tree was decorated by my daughter and I, not an interior designer. But to us, it’s beautiful.
As I sit here enjoying the comfort of hot tea, watching the lights twinkle and dance around the tree, I am reminded of Jesus’ words, “You are the light of the world… (Matt. 5:14).” Considering this ‘word’ in the light of my Christmas tree, a whole new set of adjectives I’ve never associated with lights come to mind. I’ve always considered the words “bright” and “illuminating,” along with “warm” and “inviting.” But how about “mesmerizing” or “dazzling”? Or how about “captivating”? And as all my cares and concerns fade while I lose myself to the rhythmic chase of green, blue, red and white, I can add “tranquil” to my list.
The only problem with this list is that, as I lengthen it, I become more uncertain of my ability to be the light of the world. After all, how can I ever become all of these things? What does it mean to be bright and illuminating? Warm and inviting? Mesmerizing and dazzling? Captivating? Tranquil? I guess to understand my roll as “the light of the world” I have to first understand the nature of light.
I’ve been studying these lights for well over an hour now, which I’m not afraid to admit because it’s Saturday and there’s nothing on my schedule until this evening. It isn’t hard to understand the first two attributes: bright and illuminating. It is the brightness of the light that enhances everything around it. I very much doubt that the ornaments on my tree would appeal as much to me if it were not for the brilliance of the lights around them. Of course, light also illuminates things and exposes the hidden things of darkness. We have a tradition of hiding a small ornament on the tree every year, which is almost impossible to find if I do my job right. But I am very careful not to hide it by the lights because exposure is the nature of light. Not that the lights must react to what’s hidden. By simply being what it was created to be and doing what it was created to do, light exposes things.
In a similar way, it is not hard to understand the next two attributes: warm and inviting. Ever sat beside a fireplace? In my opinion, a fireplace is one of man’s best creations. There is nothing more warm and inviting than a fireplace. When the world becomes cold and the winds are harsh, a fireplace invites the weary to settle down and enjoy the warmth of it’s fire. Likewise we, as Christians, should by our very nature, be a respite for the weary. Those who have been too long in the cold, harsh world should be compelled by our glow and warmth to come near to Christ and settle themselves in His comforting arms.
The next two attributes are not so easy to understand in the application of this ‘word’: mesmerizing and dazzling. If you have ever watched the sunlight shimmer off the surface of a lake, you know how light can be both mesmerizing and dazzling. The sunlight seems to dip and sway, dancing above the surface, bending to kiss the water and undulating to the rhythm of the waves. To watch is to be hypnotized by nature. But how do we, as Christians, become equally mesmerizing? By mirroring Christ to such a degree that people who witness our walk cannot help but watch our lives and our relationships. Our dance with Him captures their attention like light striking the surface of water, and they are compelled to watch because of the beauty reflected in our walk with Christ.
Once people notice our light, once they appreciate the beauty of Christ through us, they cannot help but be captivated by Him because to be captivating is the nature of light. Our sincere desire for Him and our earnest pursuit of Him becomes something people cannot resist. They will follow. They will yearn for Him because they can see through us that in Christ, there is tranquility. The worries of this world fade away in the light of who He is. In this fallen world, that is truly something to be desired.