Shine. If you think about it, this word summarizes our purpose for living in Christ. We are to shine with the light of Jesus, pointing the way to God for those lost in the darkness. Honestly, it’s that simple.
Human beings are created to seek out the light. Imagine yourself in a place of complete darkness, perhaps deep inside a cave, if you’ve ever experienced that. If you’ve been in the darkness for a while with no one else around you, you’re going to feel isolated. Even if you hear people around you in the distance, whispering or tapping their feet, the darkness almost feels like a weight keeping you from moving. Now if a person in the cave with you lit a small candle, you would feel compelled to go to them, to get out of the complete darkness you were standing in. Even if you had to crawl slowly through the darkness over the rough rocky floor of the cave, you would go to them, to be in the light.
The property of light itself is amazing because light and darkness cannot exist together simultaneously. Yet whenever there is a showdown between darkness and light, light always wins (black holes not withstanding, but let’s not debate quantum mechanics). The tiniest source of light can dispel a disproportionally large amount of darkness.
When I think about ministry I think about the many references in the Bible to the light. The apostle John was equated Jesus with light. Introducing Jesus in the first paragraph of his gospel, John writes “In [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)
When Jesus walked the earth, he was his own light source. People came to him because they saw the glory of God in him. But after his death and resurrection, he left the task of being the light to us. Jesus said “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Our light attracts people from out of the darkness, and we in turn can point people to God in heaven.
Often times, we think of all the things we must do for the sake of the gospel. But all God has really asked us to do is to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God, in full view of those who are living in darkness. Yes, we go to Japan with a strategic purpose for sharing the gospel with those who have never had the chance to experience it. But we also intend to “let our light shine” in our lives outside of our ministry times. We realize we have many friends and family members who may have never seen how a Christian family functions close up. We want to show them how we deal with daily issues and irritations, how we pray together, how we support one another. Yes, we’re far from perfect, but that in itself is a testimony as they will get to see how we deal with one another’s faults and shortcomings in the light of God’s love for us. We want to live our lives in full view of those who may have never met a Christian before, warts and all, so they can see that though we are not perfect, there is evidence in our lives that God makes all the difference.
We already have a list of people we are praying for, people who we already know and care about and whom we want to share the gospel of Jesus with through how we live. We want to be the light to these people who may have never experienced the light before. This is our ministry that takes place in the gaps, in fellowship with friends, walking down the street, talking with shopkeepers. It’s the ministry of life, shining as stars in the heavens.