Hosea 6:3: “Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”

The opposite of acknowledging the Lord is ignoring Him.  People ignore the Lord for various reasons. I have done so too, and I can say that life is lonely without Him.  Truly lonely!  And without God I do not even seem to be able to connect with other people very well.  Nothing really works.  It pretty much reminds me of a power outage.  Acknowledging the Lord on the other hand is basically turning the power back on.  It is so much better to acknowledge Him and see the Lord at work in our lives.  Jesus says about Himself (John 8:12):

“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

If you go on a hike before Sunrise without a flashlight you will experience what it means to walk in the dark.  We need to see the light to know where we’re going.

This morning I admired a beautiful sunrise.  I witnessed how the horizon lights up long before the Sun actually shows up.  As the Sun progresses higher and higher, the scenery around me is dipped in light.  What I find wildly fascinating is that light not only helps me recognize the things around me, it also provides color.  Before the Sun came up everything around me looked grey.  That changed dramatically with the dawning daylight.

In the same way, the Light of the World, Jesus, dips my life in color, I can personally attest to that.  My life is so much more colorful with the Lord in my life, and I know that this is true for every life well lived. He comes to us like the winter rains; he softens the soil of our hearts and gives us the opportunity to thrive.

“Rain, rain, rain, rain beautiful rain! Oh come to me beautiful rain!” (Joseph Shabalala)

Matthew 5:11: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”

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)

John 1:9-10: “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.”

Over the centuries the Bible has been translated from its original language into most languages of the world. The English Bible translation comes in many different versions, one of the earliest being the King James Bible (KJB). This translation, performed by 47 scholars, was completed in 1611 under King James VI and I (hence the name “King James Bible”). In the first chapter of John’s gospel the New King James Bible reads in Verse 5:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

Other English versions translate: “the darkness did not overpower it” or “the darkness does not absorb it.”

Darkness has trouble seeing through light; light on the other hand sees through darkness. Picture yourself in a dark room, and suddenly someone shines a flashlight on you. Wouldn’t you be blinded by the light? Conversely, if you were the one holding the flashlight, you would most likely see what’s going on in that dark room.

Similarly, the spiritual Light of the world shines through the darkness, which means God can see through anything, and nobody can hide from Him. God’s understanding even penetrates the depths of hell.  Using many word pictures, Psalm 139 describes God’s far-reaching radius (Psalm 139:7-12)

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

Isn’t it hard to see Jesus in a dark and troubled world? I believe that’s why a lot of people didn’t recognize the Son of God when He was right in front of them, when He walked the streets of Jerusalem. And to this very day people have problems recognizing Jesus. Completely alienated from God’s point of view, who can understand the depths of God’s multi-layered love? That would be like gazing into a flashlight in a dark room: We just can’t wrap our heads around it. God’s love is hard to understand, but the good news is, we don’t need to understand His love to receive it.

Jesus, in fact, is reaching out to every single person on this planet; He comes in the disguise of a kid sharing his school lunch with someone who has no lunch; or the person asking the cashier to add the groceries of a destitute person next in line to his bill; or the musician who goes to nursing homes to serenade lonely people; or the person who calls to check on a friend he hasn’t seen in a while to find out he interrupted a suicide attempt and saved his life.

I believe in the life-changing effects of God’s powerful love. Touching one life at a time, His love will eventually revolutionize the entire world. In God’s own good time there will be a collective recognition of the Lord of lords, King of kings, Everlasting Father, Almighty God.  All people will see the light. And that, my friend, will be an exceptional history-making day!

“Jesus in disguise, Jehovah passing by, the burden of a tear hanging in your eye, Jesus in disguise, a scar across the sky, you were looking for a king you would never recognize.” (Brandon Heath)