Light is all around us. It invades the sky, day and night. It provides life and energy for God’s creation. It makes way for visibility. The stormiest days cannot prevent the sun from rising in the east and setting in the west. Even the darkest nights cannot keep the stars from their existence high above the earth. This is what God intended, even since the beginning of time.
Genesis 1:1-5, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”
The very first thing God created besides the heavens and the earth itself was light. For me, this puts a significant weight of glory in the presence of light. The Creator of the universe emphasized its importance by separating light, which he saw to be good, from the darkness, which is the absence of light.
The purpose of my blog is not to discuss the difference between the light and the darkness. Rather, I plan to discuss the two different types of lights that exist in our world – the one that resembles the light God saw to be good and the one that masks itself as the good light but is truly hidden darkness.
Upon studying the book of Ephesians, I realized I had fallen prey to a major misconception. It poured itself out into my relationships, both with God and people. This misconception was that I perceived the spotlight, the attention of man, to be wrong. For me, to stand on stage with the limelight on myself in the midst of the praise of men and women was sinful. Yet, after reading through the book of Ephesians again, God revealed himself to me in a glorious, new way that I desire to share with each of you.
If God is the creator of all things, and he is (Genesis 1; Colossians 1:16), then he is the creator of the spotlight. Furthermore, if God creates all things for good, and he does (1 Timothy 4:4), then there must be a good purpose underlying the presence of the spotlight, and there is.
The glory of the spotlight is that the spotlight is all God’s, for he is the light giver and light receiver.
How can God give and receive the spotlight at the same time? The glory of the spotlight is the glory of God. It is the fullness of God impressed upon his creation being reflected back upon God Almighty himself. He makes himself known to us. Though his ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts, he makes himself available to us. And he does so in an immaculate, intimate way.
In Ephesians 1, I began to see the cross in a new light, specifically a spotlight. As the cornerstone event for all of history, the crucifixion of Jesus clearly lies center stage for all. God produced a spotlight onto the tree that my Jesus was nailed to. When the sun then shined down on that cross, it produced a shadow…a shadow of greatness.
Ephesians 1:19-21, “…what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
In the shadow of the cross, we find power and authority in God’s redeeming love. God sees us as co-heirs of Christ. In other words, we are viewed by God as with Jesus rather than apart from him, separated by sin. The apostle Paul wrote in the book of Colossians, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Because of the immeasurable greatness of the glory God declared in the spotlight of the cross, we can then be redeemed and reconciled to God of all creation.
For the believer in the Gospel of Jesus, this is incredible news. The love of God transcends all things, including life and death itself! By the gracious surrender of God Incarnate (God in the form of man-Jesus of Nazareth), we are more than conquerors, as the apostle Paul wrote to those in Rome:
Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This is the good news! REJOICE!
However, for the one who decides to discount the Word of the Lord, this is terrifying news. God desires our desire for him. He wants us to want to want him; however, he does not stop time for us to find him. There is an impeding death to our mortal bodies. However, he intercedes in this world for the short span of time that we do, by his grace alone, live and he makes himself known and available to us, both in tangible and intangible ways. Therefore, if you choose not to believe, someone else will.
I am unsure for you, but the Gospel that I read tells me that the majority of people we come into contact with each day choose not to follow him. Jesus spoke, “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Yet, he still calls each of us to follow him. That is the glory found in his crucifixion. He knew we would fall short of God’s glory and fullness, yet he still came, he still suffered, and he still died for both you and I. Then he rose from the grave three days later, as promised. Before he spoke of how narrow the way is to eternal life, he still commanded, “Enter through the narrow gate.” God is faithful, and he desires your faithfulness to him.
How often do we live our lives as if Jesus is truly enough? How frequently do we live as if eternity is closer than we think? What would your eternal future look like if your last moments on this earth were spent reading this post? How would the lives of those around you be affected? What would they say of you at your funeral? What account would you give to God while kneeling before the throne?
If the glory of the spotlight is God himself, than the shame of the spotlight can only be one thing: me. The spotlight is perceived as sinful only when we selfishly absorb the light rather than reflect it. There is a clear-cut difference then between a spotlight absorber and a spotlight reflector. The spotlight absorber reflects pride, while, the spotlight reflector projects humility.
Another concept we must embrace is the difference between soaking up the spotlight and soaking up the sun. When we soak up the spotlight, we soak up the glory of God yet keep it to ourselves. It would be as if I was given the power to do anything in this world and I chose to have my favorite ice cream delivered to my doorstep. How crazy would that be? I could battle world hunger, human trafficking, and all sorts of injustice, yet I chose to waste that authority on my own selfish desires. That is what it looks like to soak up the spotlight.
On the contrary, when we choose to soak up the sun, we are ultimately blinded by the glorious light of God. We desire to surrender in his presence, seeking to be filled, only to go forth in this world to proclaim Jesus to the nations and generations. Think of it this way, when we soak up the sun, we are really soaking up the SON. Drink deeply from his Word…pray continually…make disciples. This is what it means to soak up the sun.
God clearly calls us to be mirrors. He designed us to reflect light; not just any light, but the glorious light of Christ Jesus! He made us to be compassionate, loving creatures of his Word and his creation. He desired for us to be mirrors of examination, restoration, and transformation. That we would be examined by all peoples as reflectors of the redemptive love of God. That we would reveal the restoration that God’s restorative love performed in our hearts and souls. That we would finally be transformed by the saving grace of God.
Romans 12:1-2, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Our lives should look different. When we experience the redemptive, saving love and grace of God, we should ultimately be left radically changed. This is what is meant by saying that the soul can never reject the soul giver, when made present to the him. The presence of God first leaves us ridden with fear, due to our brokenness. As I discussed in my last post, the prophet Isaiah and John of Patmos were two primary examples of people fearfully affected by a glimpse or vision of God. Yet, God loves us far too much to leave us unchanged.
The only way we can overcome the pride of our self-absorbing spotlight tendencies is to have our hearts transformed by the conquering humility of Jesus. With myriads upon myriads already praising the name of God, we should be begging to worship God. Why do we then act as if our praise is merely a chorus of words? Our worship of God is a matter of taking on the role of a mirror and reflecting the spotlight back onto the giver of the spotlight itself. While the presence of God first leaves us horridly fearful due to our brokenness, it ultimately leaves us hopeful in his faithfulness and praiseworthiness. This is the glory of the spotlight.
Furthermore, God gives us the ability to humble ourselves before him. If we fail to do this, we will ultimately be humbled by God himself. Ultimately, we are saved from the wrath of God, by the grace of God, for the glory of God. If we fail to understand his wrath, we fail to understand his grace and his glory. My prayer is that you and I would not miss the authority of God the Father. Remember, he reigns in holy, unapproachable light. It has been taught generation after generation, “Pride comes before the fall.” Let us be the generation to give our pride over to God in exchange for the humility of Christ. Let us be the generation that proudly declares the humility of Jesus.
Humble yourself, or be humbled. That is the decision the Gospel leaves us. Ultimately, God loves all of his creation far too much to leave us unchanged, and therefore, he asks us to move before his wrath moves us to destruction.
Oh, how I fear falling into the gaping hole of the self-absorbing spotlight. I confess to you my struggle with pride in being an outspoken believer of the Gospel of Christ. Far too many times, I have exchanged the power of the Gospel for my own selfish desires. For lent and thereon, I choose to give up myself. I choose to be a mirror for my jealous God, who protects and pursues me. Even if I stand alone, I will stand.
God Almighty, we praise your holy name! From whom all blessings flow; you are good. I choose to reflect the spotlight, bringing glory to your name. I choose Jesus, the faithful son of God who humbled himself even to the point of death, so that I could humble myself to the point of grace. Take this world from me and give me Jesus. Wherever you may lead me, teach me to reflect your light. However bright the spotlight, I will bring glory to your name. Furthermore, teach my brothers and sisters in Christ to join me in my pursuit of you. Finally, reconcile those who have not found glory in your name yet to you. Bring them to the crux of salvation so that you can justify and adopt them, bringing them into the family of God. Let there be light, and let the light be good. We give you all the honor and the glory and the praise…