If Jesus took a group snapshot of Him and His followers and would post this on social media you could see some sort of a family resemblance. Unfortunately, there were no cameras back then, though in the Bible we are running into a series of descriptive snapshots. Those little nuggets can also bring out family resemblance – maybe more so than a photograph could do.
Take for instance Jesus descriptive selfie “I am the Light of the World” and compare this to Jesus’ descriptive snapshot of His followers in Matthew 5: “You are the light of the world”. Family resemblance! No doubt about that. Jesus is the light, so are God’s children; and Jesus is asking to not be shy about it either! Instead, He is asking to be very open about it. A lamp is not put under the table but under the ceiling. What good is it to see the crumbs under the table when in fact the lamp can light up an entire room! And what is this little lamp doing under the table anyway – trying to hide? Good luck with that! Light cannot be hidden. Neither can a town on a hill. Neither can a lamp that is turned on. It naturally spreads light. That’s just the bottom line, or, the nature of following Jesus.
In the book of Acts we are reading how the disciples were spreading the light by constantly talking about Jesus’ resurrection. On one hand, this resulted in much controversy – light always has this side effect because it naturally separates from darkness. On the other hand, the talking and sharing was also contagious – newcomers were eager to learn more about Jesus; then they became light bearers and started spreading the light.
It wasn’t long after the Good News was shared in Antioch, (situated near modern day Antakya in Turkey) that people applied a name tag to the new movement, calling members of the early church “Christians.” Previously, they were called “Followers of the Way”. If “Christian” was to be a job title, then “Follower of the Way” could have been the job description. In other words, living Christ’s way is ultimately what Christianity stands for.
So, what is Christ’s way? Reading through the gospel records we’ll find that Jesus consistently reaches out. This simply is His way of life. He brings light into the darkness, food to the hungry, healing to the sick. God’s children follow His example, which is again a striking family resemblance!
Spreading the light – let’s go back to the beginning, when light was first spread, when God separated light from darkness. At the dawn of creation, the great new beginning, God’s Spirit was hovering over a formless mass we call “Earth” today. The first chapter of the book of Genesis describes this incredible event (Genesis 1:2-5):
“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.
And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light ‘day’ and the darkness ‘night.’”
The Holy Spirit was hovering over the surface of the deep as God spoke light over complete darkness. That’s God’s saving grace in action! God did not abandon the Earth when it was formless, chaotic and empty; instead He spoke light into it, and life returned as new life was created. There is always reason to hope, even in most dire circumstances. God is closer to us than we might think. Let’s remember that light continually reaches out into the darkness to save. As light can be seen from very far away it is elevated and visible like an advertisement board; similarly, if God’s light is in your heart God will show you around. His love is advertised through the way you live your life. His love shines through because His Light does not and will not hide.
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!” (Harry Dixon Loes)