Christians Glow in the Dark
A sermon based on Isaiah 60:1-6
Sunday, January 5, 2014
I don't know if you've been to the new Jumpin' Junction yet, but the mini-golf is pretty cool. I took the boys and a friend to golf on Thursday and the boys wore their shirts with neon colors because they knew about the black lights. They thought it was pretty cool how they glowed in the dark. (Okay, so did I.) In fact, a while ago I bought a black light for a couple of bucks at eBay and some glow in the dark stars and some sticky tack at Walmart for a few dollars more. I stuck them to the ceiling in the boys' room, turned the lights off and the black light on. I know I'm supposed to be all grown up, but I don't care: glow in the dark is still cool. Even if you're not a kid, the glow sticks, the glow-in-the-dark stars, the lightning bugs we used to catch in jars, the fireworks I know some of you set off on New Year's Eve—there's still something neat about the sharp contrast: the brilliant light shining in the darkness.
And we're not alone. God thinks it's pretty cool too. Let's face it, darkness surrounds us. And not just the darkness of no light, the darkness of waning morals, of increased wickedness, of people lost in the darkness of depression and despair, mourning in the darkness of death. But… a light has dawned! A beautiful, brilliant light! Jesus shines in this dark world. And we bask in that light soaking in the peace that comes through him. But like the moon reflects the sun, we too reflect the light that the Son of God radiates. We shine in the dark. And the more time we spend with Jesus, the brighter we shine in this dark world. And God thinks it's pretty cool. After all he made us Christians to glow in the dark.
Listen now to Isaiah's prophecy of the Light shining in a dark place and the radiant people he makes, recorded for us in Isaiah 60:1-6…
"Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 4 "Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm. 5 Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. 6 Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.
I. We Soak Up the Son
The good news is that the days are getting longer. The bad news is that we're still in for some darkness. What a fitting time to talk about darkness and light. And of course, you know that darkness has been a picture for sin, danger, death, and ignorance for a long, long time. All of us were born in such darkness that the Bible describes us as being born blind. Now that's dark. Darkened to any thoughts of serving God, we lived to serve ourselves. Just as the color black absorbs all the colors of the rainbow reflecting nothing back, we were entirely self-absorbed, giving only to those who might do something for us in return or at least make us feel good about ourselves, which, let's face it, is still selfish. As such selfish sinners, who gave no thought to pleasing God, we were doomed to spend an eternity in the darkness of hell. And we were in such darkness we couldn't find a way out, in fact we were so blind, we were ignorant to our own problem.
But that's how we were…
Now, the light has dawned!
Your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
More than just a lighthouse, a beacon of hope in the dark night, the Lord has become more of a search light. When you were lost in the darkness of sin, doomed to the darkness of a grave, damned to eternal darkness in hell, he sought you out. Like the search and rescue team, he spotted you in the dark, shone his light on you and rescued you.
Christ is that brilliant light that Isaiah describes as "the glory of the Lord." He shined in this dark world as a sinless person—talking about brilliant student! He never got an answer wrong on God's test of morals! He shined to the Gentiles (that is, non Jews) as the Savior of all mankind, not just a few in one chosen race. He shined to the ends of the earth. That's what we celebrate on Epiphany: That Jesus is not just Savior of the Jews, but our Savior, just as we was to the Greeks in Paul's day or to the foreign Magi "from afar" of his infant days. Through your baptism, through the Word, Christ has done for you what said in 2 Corinthians 4:6: "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."
You are forgiven by his sinless death in your place. You are prefect by his perfect life—his perfect score credited to you. You are saved by the Light of the World and by the Holy Spirit enlightening you to these truths.
So rejoice in the glory of the Lord! Be at peace! You're not in the dark anymore. There's nothing like a bright sunny day to drive away the darkness of depression. But bet your hearts be in awe of what God has done for you! You're safe in the Light. You're safe eternally. And bask in that Light every chance you get. Soak up the Son as you read more about him in the Word. And let his peace drive away the darkness of sin, of despair, of living to serve yourself.
And just as you spend more time outdoors in the sun and your skin starts to tan and you look different, so too, the more time you spend basking in the glory of the Son of God, the more you'll look different. You'll look more and more like him. Christians don't just soak up the Son, they reflect the Light. Christians glow in the dark…
II. We Reflect the Son
"Rise and shine" wasn't my favorite phrase growing up. It still isn't. I'm a night owl and would love nothing more than to just pull the covers up over my head and go back to bed some mornings. But this morning, God calls to all of us, "Rise and shine!" Well, okay, technically it's, "Arise, shine!" but it means the same thing. He says that after your light (Jesus) and the glory of the Lord shine on you, then in turn, "Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. "Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you… Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy…" In other words, he calls us to "Rise and shine" and reflect the light we've absorbed in Jesus.
Just as the moon has no light of its own, but reflects the son, so too we simply reflect the glory of Jesus. Just as a glow-in-the-dark star captures the light of the lamp or the black light and reflects it, we reflect the love of Jesus. We rise and shine with the radiance he gives. We don't have to snap back with an ever better insult after we receive one. We see Jesus' patience even in the face of insults. And we reflect it. We don't have to spend our dollars just on ourselves, but see Jesus' generosity to us. And we reflect it. We don't have to strive for power, control, or fame. We see Jesus' humble service to others caring about the opinion of one person—God the Father. And we reflect it.
And even though I didn't like to hear my mom say, "Rise and shine!" and I still don't like to hear my wife say, "Rise and shine!" as Christians we all love to hear God say, "Rise and shine!" We love to serve our God in thanks. The moon can't help it. It reflect the sun. It doesn't have a choice. The glow-in-the-dark stars can't help it. They give off the light they've received. They don't have a choice. And we can't help it. We reflect the glory of Jesus and mirror him in how we live, in how we love, and in how we behave toward others.
Not feeling that way? Feeling like you can help it? Then spend more time in the Light. The more light a glow-in-the-dark star gets, the brighter it shines in the dark. But it doesn't glow very bright if it hasn't been in the light in a while. So bask in the light of the Son again. Absorb his mercy, his grace, his peace. And then you will reflect it. You will, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) You will, "become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." (Philippians 2:15)
Then, when you've basked in the Son, you will forgive just as you've been forgiven. You will give generously just as he has given so generously to you. You will love just as you've been loved. You will serve others just as you have been served.
Yes, it's still a dark world. Not just because we have so little light. But because of so much sin, hatred, violence, and ignorance. And that darkness isn't going away until the end of the world. But we have the Light that makes us no longer afraid of the dark. We have Jesus. Our sins are forgiven and we're at peace. And now, we have opportunity to share that Light with others. Reflect the light of the son. And we will. Christians, glow in the dark, in Jesus' name, amen.