Worship: The Light of Lights

My teenage son is a Hoosier fan and one of his Christmas gifts was that I would take him to a game. The drive to Bloomington from Ohio was over country roads, making it a pleasant afternoon drive. After the game, however, the nighttime drive home had quite a different feel. The dark country roads with no streetlights made me feel as if I were entering a mystery novel, “It was a dark and stormy night…”

It was the sheer blackness that made the first home we saw decorated with Christmas lights really stand out. The rich, bright colors replaced the ominous darkness with something beautiful, something inviting. It occurred to me that if I were lost and needed directions, I’d look for a home with Christmas lights to ask for help.

Christmas lights, especially on black, starless nights, always make me think of Jesus, who called himself the Light of the world (John 8:12). I like to ponder what he meant. What is he illuminating? What is he revealing?

Did he come to reveal the depravity of mankind? Did he come to show us how far removed we are from the Father, how our sins have deceived us, destroyed us and separated us from God? We already know all that, so that can’t be why he came.

Did he come to reveal a new and better set of laws, new rules we must adhere to if we are to have any hope of obtaining God’s love? No, that doesn’t make sense either. No one has ever lived without sin, not even believing Christians. If there is anything we have to do to qualify for God’s love, none of us will ever qualify for it.

Or did he come to reveal not something for us to qualify for or measure up to, but something about God—about the Father’s unconditional love, mercy, forgiveness and grace toward humanity manifest in Jesus himself?

As I continued driving home, I started thinking about my relationship with my children. If I want to have a relationship with them that endures into their adulthood and for the rest of our lives together, my priority will not be to continually point out their flaws and weaknesses. My priority will be to continually remind them how precious they are to me. I teach them and do what I can to equip them to cope with life and to thrive in this world. But the most important thing I can teach them is that I love them unconditionally.

Jesus is the Light who came to reveal the Father for who the Father really is. He came to show us that God loves us, and that he is not some angry god of judgment and condemnation. He came to show that God is a Papa/Father who loves us as his precious children. It’s amazingly simple, yet incredibly beautiful. And he’s asked us to share that good news!

Author: Rick Shallenberger


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