I have always thought that a lighthouse is a particularly appropriate metaphor for the Christian life and the responsibility that Christians have to shine as lights in this world. I am currently privileged to serve as Superintendent of Sunshine Bible Academy, and the same metaphor could be used substituting sunlight for the beacon of a lighthouse. The passage of Scripture that is the basis for this metaphor is Philippians 2:14-16, which reads as follows:
“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” (ESV)
First of all, the very idea of light should be addressed. Light is the opposite of darkness, and there is no lack of darkness in our world. In physical darkness there is an absence of light. Rarely if ever have most people experienced complete darkness because there is often some light, however small, coming from something. In our homes these days, unless the electricity is out, there is often plenty of light even when all of the lights are turned off. We have digital clocks, which are themselves lights, on microwaves, ovens, alarm clocks, and DVD players. We have lights indicating “on” or “off” on all manner of electronics in our homes. If we go outside there are usually street lights, lights from car headlights, and/or light from the moon and stars. We have all of these lights so that we can see–either see where we need to go, see what we are doing, or see what time it is. But the bottom line is that light drives away darkness. When a light is turned on darkness is eliminated within the reach of that light source. Where light is, darkness is not.
It is interesting to think about the fact that when light is not present darkness naturally results. There is nothing that we have to do to create darkness. Once the sun goes down, darkness will result. We do not have to flip any switches, cover any windows or otherwise do anything in order to create darkness. It will come. Darkness is always lurking, ready to spread as the light fades. As light dissipates, darkness is already there. We never have to “turn on the dark.”
I’m talking about physical light, of course, but spiritual light and darkness are the same way. As a result of sin and the depravity of man we live in a world filled with spiritual darkness. We do not need to do anything to cause that darkness to be present or to spread. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the only thing necessary for darkness to dominate the world is for those who have the light to do nothing.
Looking back at our verses, grumbling, complaining and questioning are the natural outgrowths of man’s sin nature. We do not have to do anything for those to be present. When things are not going our way, when nothing is working out the way we want it to, when we need to do something we would rather not do…grumbling and questioning will happen without any effort required on our part at all. That’s because we are self-centered, and naturally express our dissatisfaction when things aren’t going our way. To not grumble and question then requires action on our part. It requires us to turn on the light of dying to self, putting our desires and preferences aside and doing what needs to be done without whining about it. Doing that is part of shining as lights in our world. Only one part, to be sure, but a definite starting point.
We will continue to look into this next time….