While I genuinely love the Christmas season, I must confess that I get annoyed and frustrated by the commercialization of what is a genuinely spiritual event. I’m not the biggest fan of decorating my house or the Christmas tree. But don’t call me a Grinch. Personally, I like to think of myself firmly set in the middle between the two extremes – Ebenezer Scrooge and Clark Griswald. OK, since my wife Jean will read this, I lean a little more toward Mr. Scrooge. Jean, on the other hand, absolutely loves everything Christmas—decorating, making our own Christmas cards, seasonal smells, and post-Christmas sales. One of her favorite colors is even a bright Christmas red. And she especially loves to ride around with our 3 year old Will at night looking for “twinklies”—Christmas lights
Unfortunately, even decorating one’s house with lights has become commercialized. Popular movies poke fun at the ridiculous number of lights and exorbitant amount of money spent on lights and decorations during the season. Just a few days from now, ABC will air for the second Christmas, “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” highlighting the extremes of some decorators. But I believe that decorating one’s house and tree with lights is more than a mere nod at external beauty. Christmas lights hearken back to a biblical truth that will last for ages past the modern era of commercialized Christmas. We all know the story of the Christmas star. Many of our Christmas trees are topped with a star pointing to the story of the wise men who were guided to Christ’s abode by a star that had risen in the sky. But even deeper and truer still is the scriptural assertion concerning the light of the world. Numerous Christmas hymns shine through music and melody the truth about Jesus—the Light of the World.
In Isaiah 9:2, the prophet foretells: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of darkness, a light has dawned.” Further along in this same passage, Isaiah declared, “For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders, and he will be named Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
In chapter 4 of Matthew’s Gospel, the apostle quotes this passage from Isaiah affirming that those dwelling in darkness have seen a great light—that light being Jesus himself. As the light of the world, a Christmas theme, Jesus illuminates this dark world in two very important ways. First, Jesus the light exposes the darkness and evil of our sins. Without exposing our sin, there is no hope of dealing with it. Second, and equally as important, Jesus the light reveals the glory of his Heavenly Father. So the light of the world both exposes our sinfulness and deficiency before God as he also reveals to us the glory of the Father and his purpose of salvation.
Fittingly, in the very next chapter of Matthew, Jesus declares that his followers are the light of the world. In other words, the illuminating responsibility to expose sin and reveal the Father’s glory has now become the responsibility of each believer. It’s like the song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna’ let it shine.” My only complaint with this song is the phrase, this “little” light of mine. Our light is not little because it is not a light of our own making or from our own hearts. The light is that of the Christmas child who is Lord and Savior.
It is his light which has been reflected all the way from a feeding trough in a stable to a wooden cross, a borrowed tomb and even to the depths of hell itself—from the humble adoration of simple shepherds to the glorious songs of heavenly hosts in the choir rooms of heaven—from the mountainside as a traveling preacher ignited a flame in the hearts of his followers to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people across planet earth. No, our lights are not little, and we must not allow them to grow dim.