John 8: 12 (MsgB)
Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows Me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.”
Now for Jesus’ second great I AM statement: “I AM the Light of the World.”
As we mentioned earlier in this blog series, John the Gospel writer offers his readers seven separate occurrences in Jesus’ ministry when our Lord clearly reveals Himself as that same great ‘I AM’ (Yahweh) found in the earliest Old Testament accounts written by Moses. Here are the seven great I AM’s:
“I AM the Bread of Life” (John 6:35);
“I AM the Light of the World” (John 8:12);
“I AM the Door of the Sheep”(John 10:7);
“I AM the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11);
“I AM the Resurrection, and the Life” (John 11:25);
“I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6); and
“I AM the True Vine” (John 15:1).
Unfortunately, when we modernized folks read these unique words of Jesus, as He proclaims Himself as being the One, Great Light of the World, we yawn, stretch our arms, and keep on reading.
Quite a mistake on our part, as I see it.
I say that, because if Jesus of Nazareth is the only, one true Light of the World, my question is this: What does that leave us ‘leaders of the church’ to be?
The only answer that truly is biblical, is this:
We are not the light, but only ‘reflectors’ of the light. The moment we the church, or any of her leaders, try to produce our own light or come up with some new and improved light, we are overstepping the boundaries Jesus clearly states here. There is only one light source in the universe. If we clearly abide by that rule, we can have a lot of fun, running extension chords all over the world for the cause of Christ. But when we begin to think of ways to create new light sources that are created out of our own good intentions, we are truly playing with fire.
The industrial revolution offers a good example here. When the electric light bulb was invented and then mass-produced, we human beings stepped into a whole new level of life existence on this planet. Now, for the first time in human history, men and women could live and work based on our human schedules, not the work schedule set by the sun. And while the blessing of the electric light bulb has been revolutionary to our human existence, it also is ultimately responsible for pulling all human life away from a life rhythm that allowed us to work when the sun was shining and rest when the sun went down.
Now, with the advent of a man-made light source, people are literally working around the clock. 24-7. I don’t think it a coincidence that doctors across the westernized world are telling us that there is more sleep deprivation in our culture than ever before. So am I saying that we destroy the electric light bulb and go back to the way life was prior to its’ invention. No. But what I am saying is that when we human beings add additional light sources to our lives, there is a real danger of disrupting a right order set by God.
So it is in church life. In a rush to make church attractive to the masses, we set up man-made light sources to attract those walking in the shadows. And while I don’t believe any of us pastors intentionally do this, the end result is that people end up being dependent upon the light sources we humans have created, while decreasing their total dependency upon the one true light source, Jesus of Nazareth.
“I AM the One, True Light of the World,” Jesus states.
Let’s make sure we pastors and shepherds stay away from becoming the next Thomas Edison in Jesus’ perfect Kingdom!
My prayer: Jesus, if You, indeed, are the One True Light of the World, how foolish for me, as a pastor of the people, to light a bunch of candles and tell folks to look at the nice light I created for them. You are the only source of Light we need. May You shine ever brighter in this darkened world, surpassing even those lights we, the church, set up mistakenly on Your behalf. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Let’s be honest here. Where have I, as a church leader, been guilty of setting up a few man-made spotlights, hoping to attract the crowd? Has the ministry I represent been guilty of attracting audiences through the use of entertaining light shows while actually detracting from the One True Light, Jesus of Nazareth?
So what is God speaking to you today as we follow Jesus the Nazarene, the Leader of the Church?
Between now and the end of 2015, we will be sharing with you a blog series we first developed in 2013. We call it Follow The Leader: Re-defining Successful Leadership from the Gospel of John. In order to keep all 46 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Follow The Leader home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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