Throughout the summer months there seems to be one party after another for our youngest children to go to. The other day, our youngest child, the one we call “The Tank” returned from one of those parties with a huge bag full of typical party gifts, which included one of those glow sticks. As he was waving it around, I thought, “Now there’s a great idea for a word of encouragement!” Let’s see if I was right . . .
If you are not familiar with a glow stick, it is a self-contained, short-term light source that, once activated, cannot be turned off. This means that the glow stick can only be used once until the light dies out. That seems like a great description of the call God has placed in the lives of every one of his children, including you!
“You are the light of the world. A town built 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 others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV).
This passage is found in that famous portion of Scripture known as the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus is using the metaphors of both salt and light to describe his disciples. Here, where Jesus says, “let your light shine before others,” we have a command as strong as any other command in all of sacred Scripture. This is not a suggestion for the saints of God to shine their gospel light before others; it is what theologians call a “divine imperative,” and it is given to every child of God. Everyone who, by grace through faith, has put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is commanded by God to let their light so shine. In other words, we are called by God to be . . . glow-stick saints!
Here is something to remember about this divine imperative. God does not need us to expand the cause of his kingdom. He was doing fine before we got here, and he will be doing fine long after we are gone. But God “wants” us. That’s right. You are wanted by God. God sought you, caught you and bought you with his precious blood, and has called you to point the world to him by letting your light shine and glowing for the glory of God.
The nature of glow sticks
So, let me ask you, how brightly have you been glowing for the glory of God lately, putting the truths of the gospel on display? In school? At the office? In your family? At your church? In your community?
In our definition of the glow stick, we see some strong parallels that can be applied to the life of the Christian. Let’s take a look.
- Short-term – Even if we live to the ripe old age of 100, it is still short-term in light of eternity. Life is brief and fragile, and no one knows when they will take their last breath. Keeping the short-term aspect of life in view will keep us shining more brightly more often to more people.
- Cannot be turned off – This is a biblical truth that cannot be denied. Once the Holy Spirit takes up residency in the heart of the believer, there is no off switch. To be sure, there are seasons when our light may not shine brightly; but make no mistake, the light is still there and simply cannot be turned off because it is the light of the Spirit, not the light of the flesh.
- Can only be used once – The next time you are driving down the road and see a funeral procession, notice there are no luggage racks on top of the hearse. The reason, of course, is because that person is not coming back. We get one shot at this thing called life. Birth, death, and rebirth (reincarnation) is not part of the process. The Bible tells us, “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27, NIV).
God has called every Christian to shine His light in a dark world. We do this by living for nothing smaller than Jesus and by doing so, we glorify our Father in heaven. This is what it means to be a glow-stick saint. And there is no greater thing we could be in this world! Oh, one more thing about these glow sticks. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, which means we are all different and regardless of our shape and size, God can use us for his glory.
I pray this message will encourage you throughout the month, and that you will let your light so shine for the glory of God that the world will see and will glorify your Father in heaven as glow stick saints.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. Never forget that…Amen!
Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach. He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.