Wednesday, December 6, 2017
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One Christmas season I saw what might have been the most impressive Christmas decorations I've ever seen. Oh, they weren't in midtown Manhattan or one of the many special displays I've seen over the years. They were in a little village on an Indian reservation in the Southwest. This particular tribe is one of the most spiritually unreached in this country. They're pretty isolated and they are a long way from anything else. When I drove through this reservation on a night one Christmas season, I was struck by the absence of hardly any Christmas lights or decorations. It was just dark! Until I reached this one particular village. Against the backdrop of near total darkness, the church there was ablaze with Christmas lights outlining the church buildings, the windows and the doors.
The missionary who lives there told me that quite a few people were drawn to the church because of the lights. Native folks kept dropping by to thank them for the lights and even to ask questions. I can't tell you what a stunningly beautiful sight this was to see driving along a dark reservation highway toward a village with basically no lights of Christmas, and suddenly you see this one island of light in that sea of darkness. You couldn't miss it!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "An Island of Light In a Sea of Darkness."
That picture - an attractive island of light in this otherwise dark place - is a powerful picture of you and me; at least I hope it is. Spiritually speaking, maybe you're in a pretty dark environment at your school, where you work, in that group you're in, in your neighborhood, maybe even where you live. And maybe lately you've been feeling a little beat down, intimidated, kind of embarrassed to talk about your most important relationship; sort of just quietly fitting into the darkness instead of offering an alternative with your life and with your words.
But listen to what Jesus says you are in our word for today from the Word of God from Matthew 5:14-16. "You are the light of the world." Now, right now I'm thinking about that church glowing with light against the darkness that surrounds it. "A city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl." Excuse me, but that's what happens when you allow your environment to compromise or to silence your witness for Christ. "Instead," Jesus said, "they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Those lights in that Native village were attracting people. In fact, the darkness around them actually made those lights show up even more. Now, if God's planted you in a dark place, he has you there to be His winsome light. Notice what Jesus said the kind of light it would be that would attract them: "your good deeds." Not all your don'ts and the rules you keep. Not all your beliefs, not the meetings you go to or all the things you're against, but the positive things they see in you that make you stand out in your setting.
Are you known to be the one to go to, to find unconditional love, to find total honesty, to find kindness in a harsh world? Do they find gentleness when they come to you? Do they find peace when everybody's stressed out? Have they heard you pray for them in their moment of need? Do they know you are the place in their world where Jesus can be found? Do they think of you as that one safe person in their world?
Now, if the church in that little Indian village had turned off its lights, the village would have been almost totally dark because the light wasn't on. Don't let that happen where you are. If it's totally dark, don't blame the darkness. It's because the light isn't shining! Without you, without your Jesus, there's nothing but darkness. But with you and with your Jesus, you can be the light that illuminates the darkness, and it is a beautiful sight.