Many quotes and phrases ruminate through my childhood memories, but one of the most frequent would have to be my father bellowing from a distance, “TURN THE LIGHT OFF!!!” I still hear it to this day. Growing up, when I would leave a room, I would leave the lights on more times than not without any intention of returning soon, if at all. As a child, I had no grasp of what things cost or how much our monthly utilities were, so my father tried to instill mindfulness into his easily distracted child. Finally, after many years of devoted attention to my flip-switching habits, my father accomplished his goal, and I became less forgetful in that regard.
Turning the light switch off might save us a few dollars when it comes to our homes on earth but turning our lights off as Christians will cost us our homes in Heaven. I am afraid many Christians treat their lights like something to turn on and off. When they are around other Christians or when it is easy—they can leave the light on. However, when things get difficult or challenging—it’s as if there never was a light to begin with. It becomes easier and easier to pick and choose when to keep the light burning. Instead of being the light amid the darkness like Christ was, we become easily tempted to allow the darkness to envelop us—quenching our lights in the process. We begin to yell at ourselves, “TURN YOUR LIGHT OFF!!!”
This opposes everything Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:15-16. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Many of us grew up singing the children’s song, “This Little Christian Light of Mine…” and we enjoyed holding our finger up and letting that light shine. The older we get, though, the easier it is to forget the tremendous message in that song. We do not realize how many times we hide our light under that bushel or let Satan blow it out—something we exclaimed we would never allow in the song.
Last weekend, I witnessed someone keep their light burning even when they had every reason to be discouraged. We were having our first-ever Fall Festival at the Buford church, and I asked certain individuals to take on specific tasks and events to accomplish throughout the day. It turned out to be an unbelievable day for the Kingdom, but what we didn’t know was how much the weather would drastically change our ability to do some of the things we had planned. One of these exciting plans was a hayride for the children and their parents. Unfortunately, the rain and wind made it simply impossible for anyone to enjoy the hayride, so no one gave it a chance.
What many do not know is one of the kindest, tender-hearted, and Christ-like brothers I have ever known put in numerous hours for that hayride. He went to multiple places to secure the hay, hauled the trailer a good distance, and made all the preparations for a fantastic hayride. All for what wound up being a trailer sitting in the rain all afternoon. Many of us would have been upset or discouraged, but this brother looked for other ways to help serve. He could have decided to turn his light switch off and go home for the day. Instead, he wound up having arguably the most important job of the day. He sat at the welcome table and greeted every single person who came in for the day, and identified visitors from the community for us to connect with. With a smile on his face and excitement beaming like a light to the community—he made everyone feel welcomed, loved, and at home.
The world gives us so many reasons to let our light fade. Each of us are facing challenges seemingly more than we can bear from time to time. It can be finances or our jobs, the pandemic or politics, racism or moral decline pressing in on all sides—all of us have been given reason to say, “Is my light even worth keeping on? What difference does it make? These people don’t even appreciate it to begin with.” I am so glad my brother Bradley Clark did not have this mindset. Instead of letting this disappointment quench his light, he let it burn all the brighter. In that simple example, I saw the light of Jesus through him. Jesus lit up this world whether His light was ever understood (John 1:4-5; John 8:12). What if the Source of our light decided we were not worth shining for?
Have you left the light on? When it comes to your soul, I hope you have. If you have let it dim or have let it turn completely off, I pray you let it shine again. Without our light, this world has no hope. Unless Christians reflect the light of God’s Son—there is no way this world will ever seek, hear, know, or submit to the Gospel. When we let our lights shine before men, it brings glory to our Father. It’s not about how bright WE can burn; it’s about how bright HE can burn through us. What if our light was just the thing our neighbor needed to pull them out of their darkness?
-Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism