In December of 1914 World War I had only been a conflict for a mere 5 months. Despite this, as Christmas approached soldiers’ morale was already extremely low and the causality rates extremely high. This made what happened on Christmas day of that year that much more inspiring and surprising. Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British troops fighting in World War I sang Christmas carols to each other across the lines, and at certain points, the Allied soldiers even heard brass bands joining the Germans. At dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of tobacco and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. Some Germans lit Christmas trees around their trenches, and there was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a game of soccer. For a brief moment, just one day in a war that would last for years, all set aside their differences and overlooked the severity of their situations in-order to embrace in friendship and relish in a respite of joy and peace.
This moment in WWI is considered to be one of the brightest moments ever recorded in wartime history. A moment where man’s humanity shown brighter than all else. Sadly, the very next day fighting continued and this would never be replicated to this scale again through-out the war. As Christians living in the world that we live in today, I wonder what things we need to set aside in order to be a light to the world around us. Jesus commands us to be this light at the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” The interesting thing about this passage is the reason behind Christ’s comments about us being a light. The reason our light should shine, is for the benefit of others, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father.”
In reality, a Christian who isn’t a light to other people may not only be failing their obligation to others but also failing to meet God’s expectations. Paul would continue this conversation on being a light in Ephesians 5:8b-10, “Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true) and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” It is evident that our God is expecting his Sons and Daughters to be a light in this world. It only makes sense for the followers of Christ, who labels Himself in John 8:12 as the “light of this world,” to reflect this in their own lives. Why would we, who have been given the light of Christ in our lives, turn around and diminish this light to other people? We have not only the obligation to be a light in this dark world, but if we truly love and appreciate our Savior, we have the motivation to be so as well. Christ sums this up well in Luke 8:16, “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.” This Christmas, and throughout the year we have coming up let us be prepared and motivated to be a light no matter the situation or circumstances we find ourselves in.