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.” John 8:12 NIV
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 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 through God. John 3:19-21 NIV
I grew up camping, and we took our own four children camping many times over the years. A favorite highlight was spending time around a campfire, talking, roasting marshmallows, watching the flames lick and dance around the logs. It can be mesmerizing watching the flames and it is inviting to sit in the glowing circle of light a campfire makes in the darkness of night.
John uses light and darkness as a contrast for good vs. evil. He equates love with light and everything holy and true. Darkness is a symbol of hate and everything evil and false. In John 1:9a he calls Jesus, “The true light that gives light to every man.” In the Old Testament, God used the light of fire to lead his people. “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night,” Exodus 13:21. God went before them – showed them the way to go while the Israelites were in the wilderness.
A campfire illuminates everything within its circle, but beyond its light is a pitch-black darkness, where very little can be seen. John describes Jesus as being the true light, the light to our path – just as the pillar of fire was for the Israelites in the wilderness. Jesus’ kingdom shines light on our hearts, thoughts, motivations and our actions that come from them. John talks about this in I John 2:9-11. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.”
Just as a campfire illuminates a circle around it – if we are members of God’s kingdom – Jesus’ love for us will spill out in our attitudes and actions towards those around us. Light a fire in a fire pit, use a candle, or a flashlight in a dark place. Notice how far the light shines beyond the source. Pray and ask God to reveal to you someone who needs that light of encouragement this week. Go share God’s light.
By Grace Hunter