Our world can be very dark. Children will go for generations in many corners of our planet without clean water. Mildly successful businessmen will trade their accomplishments in for alcoholism. On this very night too many women in our own community will wonder—even if for a moment—if they truly get their husbands’ fullest affections. There are in our midst teenage girls who believe themselves to be paper plates rather than fine china—to be used and tossed on a whim. Young men have been reduced to nothing more than gaming freaks with no real ambition beyond the remote control. And many of us grope around in the black fog of failure and shame, many regrets haunting us and causing our dreams to fade away. Some of these things victimize us. Some of these things we bring upon ourselves. All of these things leave us wanting, tired in dark corners, overwhelmed and hurting.
It was into this dark world that Jesus arrived. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:4-5, 9). In the midst of the blackness of our lives, Jesus has come, piercing the darkness, shining a light that will never go out. As the Light of the World he causes our shame to fade away, replacing shame with honor. As the Light of the World he causes our deepest fears to melt, replacing our fears with power. As the Light of the World he causes our sin and guilt to fall away from us, and he replaces these with forgiveness and righteousness. As the Light of the World he opens up our empty places within and fills them with meaning and purpose, hope and joy.
He can do this because he was born to die, and with his death he purchased for us our passage from death to life, from darkness to light. What he asks of us is not that we work harder or continue scrambling to find our way. What he asks is that we trust him, confessing to him our sin and shame and our need for a Savior and belief that he is God’s provision for our salvation. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
On this Christmas Eve, is there anything that would keep you from basking in the Light which is Jesus Christ? If there is, name it. Right now. Write it down or say it out loud: “These are the things that I’d rather pursue than living in the liberating light of Jesus Christ.” Be that bold, if you can. If, however, there is nothing keeping you from basking in the Light which is Jesus Christ, then tell him right now that you want his light to fill your soul. Tell him that you want the darkness that surrounds you to flee. Tell him that you want him to shine his light within you and around you, and that you desire to believe him for your salvation and hope. Ours is a dark world. It is dark because of circumstances that come our way. And it is dark because of our own choices.
But in Jesus Christ we can have light that never goes out, illuminating our pathway through the blessings and burdens of this old world in which we find ourselves, causing all of our sin and shame to take flight under the burning light which is his love and grace and mercy and goodness.
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“Write This Down…” provides a restatement of selected points or observations from various teaching venues at which Pastor Matthew speaks. The preceding material is from Pastor Matthew’s message entitled, “The Light of the World,” presented on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2011, at Bethel Church.