Step into the light

We all sort of knew it was not a good idea and we might get into trouble, but here we were, in a partially boarded-up house that was condemned, thinking about converting it into our hangout. A few of my middle school friends and I found an unlocked door to this abandoned shack and we had some ideas. At one point, we were all drawn to a room that did not have an outside window, which made it hard to see. In this room there were all kinds of boxes and a bunch of stuff all over the floor. As we were looking through the boxes, throwing stuff at each other and just goofing around, somebody found a box of matches and lit a candle. No, we did not burn the place down, but what we saw was perhaps hundreds of spider-like creatures crawling all over the place. One in our group shouted, "Cockroaches!" We could not get out of that place fast enough! The light made it plain to us what we should do.  

It is amazing what can happen when someone turns on the light. You may have been fumbling around a room early one morning trying to find your wallet and your roommate obliged you by turning on the light. You may be a mechanic or a health care worker who needs light to help diagnose problems. If you have ever gone rustic camping, you know how important a lantern is to nightlife in the woods. 

Has anyone ever turned on the light for you without actually flipping a switch? Sometimes we call this an "ah-ha moment." It is a point in time when we realize something for the first time. It is like a breakthrough. 

Some of us need a breakthrough about Christmas. We often hear it is the most wonderful time of the year, but for some, that is not the case. It can be the most depressing time of the year, the most frustrating time of the year, or maybe even the most exhausting time of the year for some. Loneliness may bring about depression, unfulfilled expectations may bring about frustrated feelings, and exhaustion may come from enduring another long season with no meaning behind it. 

There are many lights at Christmas, but when the true light of Christmas shines through, it changes everything. In the nativity story found in Matthew 1:21, Joseph is commanded by the angel, "You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." The Christmas light — Jesus — reveals reality. 

When Jesus came into the world, he turned on a light for us. Consider these foundations of reality that are revealed through Jesus' coming:

1. There is a God and he cares enough to act. The name Jesus simply means "the Lord saves." Think of baby Jesus as a care package, sent to those that God cares about. God is concerned about you and your plight.

2. People are in need of "saving." The word saving, or salvation, is used many times in the Bible and simply means deliverance. Humans have a need to be delivered. We cannot do it on our own. Sin is the cause. Sin is rebellion, acts of violence or resistance to an established authority. Because of sin, a relational barrier with God must be overcome.

3. The good news is that salvation or deliverance is possible through Jesus Christ. Jesus came as a baby, lived a perfect life and offered himself in our place as a substitute to atone for the debt that our sins brought about. Jesus is our relational bridge to God.

Step into the light. Sometimes we do not like what we see when the light is turned on, especially when dirt and filth are involved, like my childhood hangout adventure. The light of Christmas gives insight into the dynamics of the world we live in and why there is so much wrong with it. This light provides each of us an opportunity to face an accurate understanding of self and our greatest need. The light of Jesus informs our understanding of God, who he is, and his intentions.  

Maybe all this is making sense to you for the first time. If so, you may be ready to step into the light. I encourage you to do so. Express to God through a simple conversation — aka prayer — that you accept reality as he has revealed it through Jesus. This is a great starting point. But stepping into the light is more than just a one-time prayer. It involves a regular process of exposing our lives to God's truth and living out what he reveals. 

Imagine what would happen in your life if you stepped into the light of Jesus. You would experience a breakthrough that would change your life for the better and knowing the true light of Christmas would give this holiday a new, deeper meaning. 

Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church. Genesis meets at 9:30 a.m. at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey and 11 a.m. at Boyne City Elementary. Visit online for more information, or comment on Twitter @NormByers.
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