Note: This article is excerpted from Luminous.
Jesus was what I call a "person of contrast." He stood out in a crowd. We are to be transformed more and more into people who shine against a dark backdrop. We too easily settle into a pattern of living for Jesus by relying on what we know or do, to the point that we lose a deep connection with God. But knowledge and action have their place. The truth is, if we want to grow spiritually and make a difference in the world, what we know and what we do are critically important. We must embrace knowledge and action but set them within our calling to shine with the presence of Jesus. As we do, we will be people who see the light, follow the light, and shine with the light.
See the Light
To see the light is to gain knowledge about Jesus. Knowledge can be life changing. I can think back over my life to several occasions when a key insight about God or myself really hit home. For instance, at one point while I was in seminary, it struck me that all my efforts to manage my sin weren't that impressive to God. Jesus said what matters most is love. The Pharisees were more interested in managing sin than in loving. Jesus was all about awakening people's hearts to love, and within that context sin would be managed. I realized that if I loved God and people, my sin levels would decrease dramatically. That one insight has brought an incredible amount of growth in my life. In the matter of sin management and love, I can say that I "saw the light."
The incarnation story is often misunderstood and is seldom absorbed at any deep personal level. However, it can be like a rich vein of precious ore. When we mine it and bring it to the surface, it can be of great value. In fact, the incarnation story contains major building blocks of the Christian life. Maybe you are a person who wants to grow as a disciple of Jesus and be transformed. Maybe you have heard of the incarnation and think it is important but are not quite sure what to do with it. Maybe you have never felt that you could grasp why people worship Jesus. Or maybe you are fed up with being a Christian who lives for Jesus and not with him. If you are in one or more of these camps, the incarnation story is for you.
Insights happen as we reflect on God's truth and the Holy Spirit brings it home to our hearts. Are you hungry for insight about Jesus and how to live with him? Whether this hunger is strong or faint, take a few minutes to feel it. Express that feeling to God. Use your own words or borrow some from Scripture (like Psalm 42:1-2). After you have felt and expressed your God-hunger for a few minutes, make a vow to allow your hunger to impel you to pursue God today and in the future.
Follow the Light
If seeing the light is about knowledge, following the light is about action. To follow the light is to act in such a way that we imitate Jesus. Paul urged the Corinthians, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). People who shine are active people. Mother Teresa is a great example. She was known to be a tireless worker, and she expected a lot from her followers. In the same way, we must put the ways of Jesus into practice. This is where the rubber meets the road. Day in and day out. Good times or bad times. Busy or taking leisure. Sunday or Monday. Alone or with others. Those who shine most brightly are the ones who practice living with Jesus at this level.
Imitating Jesus is life-changing. We find ourselves doing things and going places we would never have imagined. We are suddenly making a difference in the world we would have never thought possible. But we don't stop at imitating Jesus. God wants to take us further. He wants Jesus to live through us. Over time, if we practice living with Jesus habitually, we will be people who shine brightly and consistently.