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Be a Mirror

Be A Mirror

Rjukan, Norway, is located a bit south of the Arctic Circle. It was built in the early part of the 20th century by Sam Eyde. It was built for the workers in his factories.

By all reports, Rjukan was a very nice place to live. For instance, Eyde, a Norwegian engineer and industrialist, harnessed the power of a nearby waterfall to generate hydro-electricity.

However, Rjukan is in a narrow valley between mountains. Because it is in a valley, from October until March each year, the town sees no natural sunlight. The people of the town could and still can see the sun shining on the mountain peaks around them. Some enterprising entrepreneurs built a cable car system from the town to the mountain peaks and charged people for the opportunity to go stand or sit in the sun. But never, during the winter, did or does the sun shine on the town. The people see blue sky above them, but just shadows around them. As it works out naturally, the brighter the sun, the darker the shadows.

Knowing the problems caused by lack of sunlight, Eyde, personally and with the help of his company, developed a plan. It was to install mirrors on the mountains. Mirrors that would be positioned to reflect the light of the sun from the mountain to the town.

The plan, when fully developed and constructed, worked. It works to this day, thereby giving the people of that Norwegian town the joy, warmth, and encouragement of basking in sunlight, which makes the winter months so much better.

Spiritually, the world can be a very dark place. Not just in winter, but all the time. Listening to the news provides ample evidence of that with terrorism, including the Easter Day bombings in Sri Lanka, wars and crimes, and arguing going on constantly. Then there are tragedies like the recent accidental burning of Notre Dame Cathedral in France. And there are the normal things of life that can be discouraging, such as illnesses and deaths of loved ones and economic and relationship difficulties.

The list can go on and on, but the world can seem as shadowy as Rjukan, Norway, in the winter. What is needed is spiritual light so we can, spiritually, be joyful and warm and encouraged.

Guess what. The source of such light is available all the time. Just as the people of Rjukan could see the light shining above them, so can we see spiritual light. It is the light of Jesus.

We know Jesus is light. He is described that way in the Bible.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is many times described as light. Here are a few of those times.

Chapter 1. The light, which refers to Jesus, shines in the darkness. How strong is His light? The darkness has not overcome it.

Chapter 8. Jesus described Himself as the light of the world. He promised that all who follow Him will have the light of life, thereby overcoming the darkness of the world.

Chapter 12. Jesus again described Himself as light, saying again that He had come as light to the world and again promising that whoever believes in Him will not remain in darkness.

Those are references in John about Jesus being light. There are other places in the Bible where that same description is given.

Including in Luke 1, where a Jewish priest foretold that Jesus would give light to those who sit in darkness.

And in Luke 2, where shortly after Jesus was born, a righteous and devout man identified Jesus as a light that would reveal salvation to Gentiles and offer glory to Israel.

And in Acts 23, where the apostle Paul preached that Jesus had proclaimed light to both Jews and Gentiles.

And in writings by the apostle Paul, such as II Corinthians 4, where Jesus is yet again referred to as light shining out of darkness.

Jesus is light. He is the light of the world. He is the light, not only that those in Rjukan, Norway, need, but the spiritual sunlight we all need, including in the shadows and the darkness of the world with the terrorism, wars, crimes, arguing, tragedies, illnesses, deaths, and economic and relationship difficulties all around us.

Jesus is the light. However, as we were reminded during the very recent Holy Week, the forces of darkness in the world put the light to death. On what we call Good Friday, Jesus was very cruelly killed. Shortly after His death, He was buried. On Good Friday evening, it looked as if the light had been permanently snuffed out.

The good news of course was celebrated last Sunday, which was Easter. The forces of darkness were not successful. Jesus came back to life. The light came back on. We know that is the truth because the tomb was empty, and He appeared to a group of women and then a couple men and then most of the disciples, all that happening on the day of His resurrection. For the next 40 days, Jesus kept appearing, performing miracles and teaching.

However, there is one more reference in the Gospel of John about Jesus being the light that is critical. In chapter 9 are these words of Jesus. “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

“As long as I am in the world.” Let me be clear that Jesus is, through the Holy Spirit, still with those of us who are His people - those of us who accept Him as the Savior He is. Spiritually, He is still with us.

But at the end of the 40 days following His resurrection, Jesus left. As He was talking with His disciples, as they watched, He was lifted up and a cloud took Him out of their sight. Jesus returned to Heaven.

Right before His crucifixion, Jesus over and over and over again promised that He would and will one day come back, but in His absence, there is something we who are His people are to do, which relates to the opening story. While others cannot see Jesus Himself right now any more than the people of Rjukan can bask in the sun during their winter months - while others cannot see Jesus Himself because He is in Heaven - we are to be spiritual mirrors, reflecting His light, all the way from Heaven to the dark places of the world.

We know that, too, is true, again because it is what the Bible teaches. For that, two passages, the first in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5.

That chapter begins Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, the Mount being a high area overlooking the Sea of Galilee. It is a sermon in which Jesus provided a wonderful summary of how to live in ways pleasing to God, helpful to others, and personally beneficial.

The sermon began with Jesus teaching His followers to be a number things. 

Poor in spirit, meaning to be humble, meaning to rely on God rather than yourself.

Mournful, not because of things that happen to us, though when we lose loved ones, our grieving can indeed be eased by the Lord, but mournful about our sins. Sad because each time we sin, we hurt Jesus. We are to grieve spiritually about sin.

Meek. That refers to being accepting of what happens to us, but ever willing to stand up for others who are mistreated.

Hungry and thirsty for righteousness. Being righteous means being in a right relationship with God and with others. That is to be our greatest desire, which requires knowing the Bible and having the God-inspired discipline to obey the Bible.

Merciful. I found this interesting definition of mercy. It is to get inside another person’s skin, speaking figuratively, of course, so you see things through that person’s eyes and think things with that person’s mind and feel things with that person’s feelings. That takes love.

Pure in heart. That refers to having pure, God-centered motives, always striving to please Jesus rather than the world.

And peacemakers, striving to keep peace with God and with others, even at the cost of our own wants or desires.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promised rewards for those who are those things. The rewards are the Kingdom of Heaven, spiritual comfort, inheriting the earth, being spiritually satisfied, mercy, and seeing God.

There is another item in the list. We who are Christians are to rejoice when we are persecuted because of our faith. That is a strange concept, but the promise is that those who stay true to Jesus in the face of persecution will be rewarded in Heaven.

Jesus began His Sermon on the Mount with a list of things we are to be. If we are those things - more positively, when we are those things - we will be the salt of the earth, giving flavor to the world. The flavor of Jesus.

Then verses 14 and 16 of Matthew 5.

You are, if you are all the things just listed, the light of the world.

Wait. Didn’t Jesus claim He is the light of the world? He most certainly did. As discussed earlier, those were His exact words in the Gospel of John. Now He claimed we, too, are the light of the world. What an awesome responsibility He gives us.

In fact, we are supposed to be so bright we will be able to be seen. 

In fact, we are to let our light shine so brightly before other people that they will see our good works, including being poor in spirit, mournful, meek, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and able to withstand persecution.

But remember the story about the mirrors shining sunlight on Rjukan, Norway. It is not the light of the mirrors that shines on the town. It is the light of the sun reflected by the mirrors.

So it is with us. As good as we ever can be, it is never light we ourselves produce that is to be or can be helpful spiritually, but the light of Jesus reflected by us. That is what Jesus went on to teach. Let your light so shine that others will see your good works, and by that give glory to who? To your Father who is in Heaven.

What a privilege it is to be a spiritual mirror, reflecting the light of Jesus so others can bask in the joy, warmth, and encouragement of the Son of God. How important to do whatever we do spiritually for the purpose of drawing others, not to ourselves. And yes, it is OK to feel good about what we do, but how important it is to do what we do for a higher calling, which is to draw people to Jesus.

Which leads to something the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians. Specifically chapter 5, verse 8.

By the way, Paul is an example of someone who let his light shine so that others could be drawn to Jesus. Paul was very active. Though he had a huge number of problems in his Christian ministry, he also had a lot of successes, including the great number of congregations he started. But his goal was always to convince others to accept, not him, but Jesus. That is what he preached and taught everywhere he went.

Including in his letter to the Ephesians.

Beginning toward the end of chapter 4, Paul taught about bad things that are to be put away from those who are Christians and good things that are to be put on. The bad list is bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice. A bit later Paul reminded the Christians in Ephesus that some of them had engaged in some or all of those bad things. The good things are being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving.

Chapter 5. Paul wrote to be imitators of God. That is fulfilled when we are good rather than bad. We are to be good. 

Verse 8. “For although you once were darkness, now [now that they and now that we who are Christians are] saved from sins, you are light.” What kind of light? Not our own light, but light in the Lord as we reflect the light that is Jesus/

Listen to this additional challenge. Walk - this is what we who are Christians are to do - walk as children of light. Light found in all that is good and right and true. Verse 10. Try to learn, which we can do as we allow Jesus to shine off and through us. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord, and do what is pleasing to Him.

*       *      *       *       *

Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus returned to Heaven. Before that, for much of the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He taught His followers - His disciples then and Christians even now - that He was one day going to return. He encouraged His followers to be ready for whenever it is He will return. 

Being ready begins with accepting Jesus as Savior. That is the first and most important part of being ready.

It also includes taking advantage of spiritual opportunities such as reading the Bible and praying to and with Jesus and fellowshiping with other Christians and worshiping our Risen Savior.

It also includes using whatever spiritual gifts have been entrusted to us to use for His glory.

It further includes what we have discussed today. We are let the light of Jesus reflect off and through us so that those who are in darkness will see the true light. The spiritual light. The light of hope. The light that is Jesus.

Today and beyond, let’s allow Jesus to make us and keep us lights to the world so others will see Him.

For the closing song, I had some trouble finding a hymn that would fit. I looked online to get some suggestions. That’s when I found a nice little chorus. This Little Light of Mine. May the chorus remind us what we who are Christians are to do, as in being reflections of Jesus.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

All around the neighborhood I’m gonna let it shine.

All around the neighborhood I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Won’t let Satan blow it out. I’m gonna let it shine.

Won’t let Satan blow it out. I’m gonna let it shine.

Let in shine, let it shine, let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

If you saw the Our Daily Bread devotional for last Tuesday, you read about Brian, a homeless, addicted man in Los Angeles who one night stepped into the Midnight Mission and asked for help.

It took a long time, but Brian recovered from his addictions. In the process, he rediscovered his love for music. He eventually joined what is called the Street Symphony, which is a group of musicians with a heart for the homeless.

One time, the group asked Brian to sing a solo from Handel’s Messiah titled “The People That Walked in Darkness,” which is based on Isaiah 9:2. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. They that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined.”

A music critic reported on the solo by writing that Brian made the words of the song sound as though they had been taken from his own life.

In fact, the words did describe Brian, who himself received the great light. The light of the world. The light that is Jesus. The light he reflected onto others so they, too, might escape their darkness.

Lord, thank You for being the one true spiritual light. What a privilege it is to be Your mirrors, reflecting Your light onto our world.

It is not always easy to reflect You. That is because there is so much darkness all around. But You are the light. That will never change. And You promise to be with Your people, no matter what. So please keep us strong, always dedicated  to doing good works, not for our glory, but so that more and more people will see You and accept You.

What an awesome responsibility. What an awesome honor. Amen.

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