Soon, we will usher in a new year. Many of us probably start New Year’s resolutions. Some will struggle to fulfill them, while others will forget them after just a few days or weeks.
Whatever the situation, as followers of Christ we have a certain mission to fulfill. We’ve been given a special calling. Peter says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). We are no more in darkness. We are in the light, the marvelous light that will brighten us up to accomplish the mission entrusted to us.
Being in Darkness
When we are in total darkness we cannot see the things around us. We’re ignorant of what’s happening and know not what to do. To remain in darkness is to remain in our sinful condition. Here self alone is our focus. How to gratify our own desires, no matter what happens to others, becomes the whole purpose of our lives. We lose our connection with Him who said, “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). The end result is that we are tied up with the world and our hearts become filled with “malice, … deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and … evil speaking” (1 Peter 2:1).
To get out of this situation, we need to get connected with the source of light—Jesus our Lord. But mere words are insufficient to get us connected. What we need is to experience Jesus in our lives. And this is possible only through the study of God’s Word, asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten us.
Being in the Light
When we get connected with Jesus, we’ll learn how He lived while here on earth. He lived among the people, mingled with them, attended to their needs, healed their sick, comforted the downheartened, cast out devils. He did nothing with an intention of self-glory, but everything for the comfort of others. When we are in the light, that same spirit of unselfishness will enter into our hearts, and we’ll be able to continue the mission He started—which is what heaven expects of us.
When we really know Him, our vision is enhanced, and we get a true picture of our real condition. Jesus is the Light, and by beholding Him we are changed into His likeness. He was full of compassion for His erring children. When we’re in need of cleansing, He is ready and willing to cleanse us.
But that is our choice. We ourselves must choose to seek that cleansing. Unless we personally feel the need for it, it is impossible for us to receive it. And without it, we cannot abide in the light of Jesus. We are too often proud, arrogant, self-seeking, and unaware of our need. But unless we surrender to the cleansing power of Jesus, we remain in darkness. We’re made new creatures only when we surrender ourselves willingly to the source of power, our compassionate Savior. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ,” Paul says, “he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Each of us should think about it: am I experiencing the new birth in my daily life?
How We Shine
As followers of Jesus, we need to serve our fellow humans with the same compassion and kindness Jesus showed while He was on earth. Only unselfish service is acceptable to the Lord. “‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’” (Matt. 5:16).
This should lead us to examine our motive for service. Are we doing it to glorify God, to whom alone glory and honor belong?
Love is the means to light up the world. Without love everything remains in darkness. As human beings, we are willing to love the ones who love and favor us. But Christ says, “‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you …” (Luke 6:27). Christ loved us when we were still His enemies (Rom. 5:8). It is the kind of love that reaches out to the wicked, the downtrodden, the poor, the stubborn, the unlovable—a love that soothes and enlightens, making a difference in the lives of people.
As Christ’s followers, we need to exhibit that same love, a love that draws people and gives them worth. Those who practice this kind of love live in the light and their work will never go unrewarded. The Bible admonishes us to “love … [our] enemies,” being examples of our heavenly Father who “is kind to the unthankful and evil” (Luke 6:35).
Of course, we’re unable to achieve all this in our own strength. But we have been privileged to obtain strength from God to go forward victoriously in unselfish service for others. As Jesus prayed for strength to accomplish His mission, so also—and much more—we need to spend time in prayer and Bible study, seeking power from heaven. Difficulties, trials, and persecution will never stop us from continuing our victorious journey, so long as we keep holding the hand of God.
And we have the assurance of His presence: “‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, … and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matt. 28:19, 20).
We Must Strive for It
By walking in the light we are moving forward to an eternal goal. “Those who hesitate to devote themselves unreservedly to God make poor work of following Christ. They follow Him at so great a distance that half the time they do not really know whether they are following His footprints or the footsteps of their great enemy…. The life and spirit of Christ is the only standard of excellence and perfection, and our only safe course is to follow His example. If we do this He will guide us by His counsel and afterward receive us to glory. We must strive diligently and be willing to suffer much in order to walk in the footsteps of our Redeemer. God is willing to work for us, to give us of His free Spirit, if we will strive for it, live for it, believe for it; and then we can walk in the light as He is in the light” (Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 408, 409).
Ramani Kurian is associate director of women’s ministries of the Southern Asia Division of Seventh-day Adventists, in Hosur, India.