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Our former offices were on this long hall, and each night the last one got to walk that long hall and make sure all the doors were locked and the lights were turned out. And with the amount of work the team had to get done each day, it was pretty close to "beddy-bye" time when some of them left. Of course, Daylight Saving Time meant that you could leave well into the evening and it would still be light. Maybe that's why the lights in some of our closets were accidentally left on sometimes. When it's still bright outside, it's easy to miss a light that's on. But in the winter, when it's dark, you can't miss the light!
The familiar and very challenging words of Jesus are our word for today from the Word of God. It's Matthew 5:14-16 where He said, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
If you're a follower of Jesus Christ, I wonder if you realize how important you are! Think about when you walk into a totally dark room. What's the most important thing in that room? Isn't it the light? Who's the most important person where you work, or you live, or go to school? Isn't it the one who's the light? Jesus said that's you. If the light isn't working - if it's dim - if it goes out, there's only darkness.
You may say, "You don't know how spiritually dark it gets where I am!" And you're right. I don't know all the details. But it probably looks something like this: the talk is dirty or blasphemous or profane, sin is something to laugh at and brag about, people are routinely backstabbed and wounded verbally, honesty and integrity are hard to find - maybe even unappreciated, Christians are stereotyped as being intolerant, old-fashioned, condemning, and irrelevant. Maybe you'd like to add a few more layers of darkness to describe the place where you're trying to be like Jesus.
But remember those office closets with the light left on. Where it's bright, you don't see the light much. But the darker it is, the more the light cannot be missed! The darker the darkness, the more the light shows up! Paul talked about that contrast when he said in Philippians 2:15, "Become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which "you shine like stars in the universe" as you hold out the word of life."
A star can barely be seen in a bright sky. But up against the stark darkness of the night, a star is something beautiful. That's supposed to be you in the universe where God's put you. So don't keep trying to hang out in places where there is already plenty of light; places where you feel safe because they're Christian places. You're needed where it's dark, where the lost people are. You can enjoy believers in heaven forever. Your job now is to get more people to go to heaven with you!
We always told our kids as they left for school in the morning, "Go MAD today." And that means "make a difference!" That's what Jesus is saying to you each morning, "Go Make a Difference there." Be a living alternative in a place where truth doesn't matter, always tell the truth. In a place where dirty is cool, don't dignify the dirty. In a place where people cut each other up, you build people up! In a place where it's everybody for himself, you be the one who always puts other people first. In a place where Christianity is laughed at or misunderstood, you let them know what Jesus is like!
Don't be intimidated by the darkness - you are the most important person in that dark place because you have the light of Jesus. Without you, darkness is all there is. Humbly, gently, lovingly, be the light there. You are one light that should never be turned out!