“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father (Matthew 5:14-16).
“For He rescued us from the power of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).
So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
There is a spiritual battle that continually goes on between light and darkness. It is a battle between the light of Christ that is in each of us, and is to shine through us, versus the darkness that comes from the evil one and his kingdom. Now in many ways this should be no contest, in fact, it shouldn’t be a battle at all. Why? Because light is always superior to darkness and darkness is always inferior to light. You can see this quite clearly demonstrated in the physical world. When you turn on a light in a dark room, the darkness immediately disappears. When you open a window at night in a lighted room, the darkness at night cannot invade the lighted room because the light is more powerful.
In the spiritual world, there is also no competition between light and darkness. Christ’s light is far superior to the darkness that comes from the kingdom of darkness. If this is so, then why is there a battle, why is it even being fought, and why is there so much darkness in the world? I believe the battle is being fought over whether or not Christians will let their light shine, or will keep it hidden under a basket (Matthew 5:15). Satan knows he can’t defeat your light. He knows when you show up with Jesus’ light, and let it shine, he has to flee (James 4:7).
So what is the battle plan of the evil one when he is quite aware of the superiority of Jesus’ light over his darkness? It’s quite obvious — he tries to get Christians to hide their light under a basket. I don’t believe the evil one is scared of all Christians, but I do believe he is scared of Christians who let their light shine. He knows that if he can get Christians to keep their light to themselves, we will have no power to defeat him. He works hard at convincing us as Catholic men that we should cloak or obscure our light. When we hide God’s brilliance within us, we can allow the evil one’s darkness to come.
It seems so simple, since Satan can’t defeat light he will convince us who are the light of the world to hide it. It’s more than just letting our light shine at church or at prayer meeting, or among our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all pretty good at this. It requires letting our light shine in our homes, our neighborhood, our workplace, the marketplace, and everywhere else. But for this to happen, it requires us to take personal responsibility to be the light of the world. This is not just the responsibility of pastors, priests, or spiritual people we think are gifted or have the right personality. All of us are called to live out our days in this revelation and truth. We are all called to be lights to the world. Yet, when we look around the world, we see many Catholic men buying into the lie from the pit of Hell that darkness is stronger than light or that sin is more powerful than grace. THIS IS NOT TRUE!!
That is why it is important to recognize the obstacles that can keep us from letting Jesus’ light in us and from shining it to others. If I had to define the major obstacle with one word, it would be fear, that is,
- Fear of others opinions
- Fear of what others will think of us.
- Fear of failure
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of looking foolish
We don’t want to look bad; we don’t want others to think we are crazy or too radical. We can be more concerned with what others think of us than what God thinks of us. Unfortunately, these fears are in direct opposition to our faith and trust in God. In fact, if we let these fears control us they can neutralize our impact on the world around us.
So how do we overcome the obstacles to our light shining, especially our fears? Here are a few ways:
1. Be secure in what God thinks of you.
“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life” (Isaiah 43:4).
But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were “no people” but now you are God’s people; you “had not received mercy” but now you have received mercy (1Peter 2:9-10).
2. Know who you are in Christ – beloved sons of God.
So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma (Ephesians 5:1-2).
But we ought to give thanks to God for you always, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
3. Remember that Jesus now calls us his friends and his brothers.
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:15).
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (Matthew 28:10).
4. Remain or abide in Christ on an ongoing basis through prayer, Scripture reading, and a confidence and trust in his great love for you. This keeps the flame of your light from going out. It is like what oxygen is to a candle. There is a direct correlation between our light glowing and our passion and hunger for the Lord growing. And this comes from a continual deepening of our relationship with the Lord.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so also I love you. Remain in my love (John 15:7-9).
5. Have expectant faith that when we cry out to God in prayer he hears us, because we are his beloved sons and Jesus’ friend and brother. He can’t resist our expectant faith in him when we pray. Even if he doesn’t answer our prayers exactly as we want him to, we know he hears our prayers and answers them in accordance with his will.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you (John 15:16).
And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours (1 John 5:14-15).
6. Finally, let me conclude by repeating what I said earlier: giving in to the fear of people can keep Christ’s life and light in us from shining to people around us. Fear can make us lose opportunities for others to experience the love and healing power of the Lord. Listen to these words of Jesus:
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).
Close friendship with God and a confidence in his Word are the driving forces that allow us to ignore the allure of worldly persuasions and temptations, and to let our light shine. Our light shines brightest in the dark when we go public with it, not when we hide it. And when we do, we create opportunities for God to reveal himself.
Our mission and our marching orders are clear – go public with your light so that:
The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the LORD’S glory as water covers the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)
Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:16)
Isn’t that what we all want – that the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord and that all would glorify our Father in Heaven. So every day, look for opportunities to let Jesus’ light in you shine to others – you will be amazed at what will happen.
Heavenly Father I thank you that in Jesus, I too am your beloved son. Lord Jesus, I trust in your great love for me. I ask for the grace to overcome the obstacles that cause me keep your light hidden under a basket and not let it shine on others.
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
[Maurice Blumberg is the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a ministry of The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
- The article opens with these words: “There is a spiritual battle that continually goes on between light and darkness. It is a battle between the light of Christ that is in each of us, and is to shine through us, versus the darkness that comes from the evil one and his kingdom.” In what ways have you experienced this battle in your own life?
- Do you believe, as stated in the article, that Satan is not scared of all Christians but of Christians who let their light shine? Why or why not?
- In what ways do you allow Christ’s light to shine through you to others?
- In what ways, perhaps unwittingly, do you place Christ’s light in you under a basket – and thus it does not shine on others”? Why do you think this occurs?
- Which of the obstacles, described in the article, keep you from letting your light shine?
- Which of the ways, described in the article to overcome these obstacles, can you put into practice now?
- Take some time now to pray for the grace to let your light shine to others. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.