Elizabeth Glass Turner ~ By the Light of Christ and the Saints
Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Does your driver’s license stipulate that you need to wear glasses or contacts to operate a vehicle?
I’m blind as a bat without glasses. Maybe you don’t have vision problems: maybe you need to wear a pair of “drunk goggles” that simulate intoxication in order to lose your vision and depth perception.
It’s an incredibly vulnerable feeling, groping for your glasses in the dark, unable to see, or unable to know what threat may (or may not) lurk nearby. This helpless sense is portrayed with a familiar shudder in the film “The Mummy,” in which the characters unleash a curse, setting a horrific monster loose. And of course, a man is fleeing, he trips, he falls – his glasses go flying; the white-knuckled audience can see where the glasses have landed in the dirt but he can’t, and as he gropes the viewer sees the mummy getting closer…
When you can’t see, you’re powerless to act with certainty.
Are there people who have been a light for you? Family members, church members, community members? Those who are not just someone you liked a lot, but All the Saints – all the holy ones – the ones who showed you just a bit better what God is really like?
You are not at the mercy of the dark; even with Halloween approaching, you don’t have to fear the dark. The Gospel of John 1:4-5 tells us, “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.”
Ordinary people bear the light – like the lights the acolytes carry down aisles to candles.
And it’s not just a reflected light from Jesus Christ that people see in you and me. After a visit to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, my little boy was entranced with rockets, planets, and stars. Riding in the car early one evening he said “I see a star!”
“No,” I replied, “that’s actually a planet; it doesn’t make its own light, it only reflects the light of the sun.”
And for believers, Jesus wants us not just to tell others about his light, not just to reflect his light – Jesus Christ wants you to be luminous; to glow from the inside out with the love of God.
God wants humans to know, “I love you and sent my Son to die for you!” But that’s not the end. Throughout the New Testament, we read of the heart of the Triune God: “I want you to be transformed – not to talk about light, not to reflect light, but to be my light in the world!”
And the Apostle Paul reminds us, “in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And if you’re thinking, “I can’t do that!” – of course you can’t.
You’re shattered, you carry darkness in your chest, you’re mean or selfish or scared or distracted.
But God says, “let me transform you!”
You may not realize it at the time, but people will start to see slivers of light shining out of your life; you will do one thing, and for a moment, just a moment – you’ll look startlingly like Jesus…
As you offer yourself to God, the darkness grows smaller, and before you realize it, people will think you know something about the light.
Because they see more clearly through you; they’re afraid of the dark, and they want a light to see by – and for them, you are that light.
Jesus Christ wants you to glow – not just to see his light, not just to talk about the light of God, not just to reflect his light, but to be transformed into light.
And as we consider saints who illumine the way for us, consider portions from the Acts of the Apostles, chapters six and seven –
“So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They produced false witnesses. All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.”
Amid plastic Jack-O-Lantern candy buckets and fake spider web and all the superheroes of the “Trick or Treat” season, we give thanks for the Light of the World, Jesus Christ; for the lives of the holy ones, the blessed ones, the saints who are light for us. And I pray that you will not be conformed to this world, not be shaped like the darkness around you, but that you will be transformed into brilliance, the light of Jesus making sense of your life and leading others around you…
This originally appeared on Wesleyan Accent in 2014.