“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.”
I love Christmas lights, don’t you? Who wouldn’t enjoy seeing the dark, cold December lit up with beautiful warmth and bright lights all around to lift our spirits?
My favorite time to see them is when I am out for an early morning run. The sky is pitch black and mostly everyone else is asleep. It is quiet and still. I listen to Christmas music as I run down the street noticing the beauty of the lights on each home, shining in the darkness.
Every year, I ponder this same question. Why does the world find so much joy in Christmas lights? Is it just the comfort and beauty they bring? It is the nostalgia of holiday tradition? Or is there more to it? Why do we ooh and ahh? Why do our hearts seem to sigh? Why do we feel peace and comfort and such a stirring of emotions just by looking at a bunch of light bulbs? The answer, I believe, is found in the very first chapter of the Gospel of John.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive Him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
We have seen His glory! We have seen the true light! Wow!
For those who believe and trust in the Savior, Christmas lights are a beautiful reminder that He is the true source of all light, all life, all joy and salvation. He is grace and truth incarnate.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
But what about those who don’t yet know Christ?
The other night, I was giving a friend a ride home from worship team practice at church. When we got to her street I noticed how many of the houses were decorated with Christmas lights. One house in particular was completely decked out, with a glow that lit up the night.
“They are definitely going to win the neighborhood contest,” she commented. Then she added, “I don’t know if they are believers or not, I don’t know them very well yet.”
I thought about her words and it struck me. So many people who cover their houses with bright lights, might not even believe in the one who made the light! All of the sudden, it seemed so ironic to me. Why would people go to the trouble of putting up all of these beautiful lights just for a day based on Santa, and reindeer, and presents? It seems so incomplete. I wanted to say, “Open your eyes world! He IS the light! He is shining right in front of us!”
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
I can’t imagine celebrating the holiday without it being about the birth of Christ and the incredible gift God gave us by sending His son to earth as a baby, only to grow up and give His life on the cross as a ransom for sinners. I can’t imagine singing the words of the carols without feeling the weight of what they mean, and the gratitude for what was given. But so many people in the world are still living in darkness, no matter how many light bulbs are on their houses.
We all need light. No one can live without it. We all have a void in our hearts that can only be filled by the love of God. Some people have just not yet realized that they are longing for the light of salvation, found only in Jesus Christ. I pray that this Christmas season we might find a way to share the light and love of Christ with someone who really needs it, with someone who might not yet know Him.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Every time I see the peaceful glow, the beauty of lights strung around a tree or on a roof, I think of Him, the light of the world. His love shines in the darkness. Let it shine through all those who believe, shine His light into a dark and weary world. This year, I pray that not only your homes, but also your hearts will be filled with the true Christmas light.