July 26, 2015
1 John 1:5 says, "This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. And this is the basis of my message to you today."
Sometimes God's messages to me come in rather roundabout ways. The title of this morning's message is the first part that the Holy Spirit gave to me. Just the word, 'Shining'. Now, if you are like me, and happen to like movies, perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that word is a movie that starred Jack Nicholson, titled "The Shining". So I started to think about the movie. Was there something in that movie that God wanted to tell me? Then I remembered a line that Dick Hallorann said to Danny, "Some places are like people. Some shine and some don't." Was this it? People and places that 'shine'? We'll come back to that...
The next morning, I woke up with 1 John 1:5 in my head. "God is light." Not that God shines like the sun, or God reflects light like the moon (both of which are created, not eternal like God), but God IS light. He is light itself. I just knew there was something in those three words that God was trying to tell me.
Finally it hit me. I got so excited, I ran to tell Ed, who was just waking up. He looked at me like I had three heads, and said "You better not preach that." "But Ed, I have to!", I replied. "Well, then you better figure out a way to do it so they know what in the world you are talking about", and he shook his head. So bear with me here. Let me begin by saying, I love science. I am not a person that believes science and religion don't mix. On the contrary, I think God is the ultimate scientist. He knows how everything works. After all He made everything! Our limited knowledge just hasn't caught up with His, and never will. Humans like to think they are the smarter than anyone. Well, they are NOT smarter than God!
So anyway, without any names of scientists, or dates, or titles of the experiments that led up to this conclusion - in the simplest terms I can come up with - scientists have recently concluded that light is BOTH a particle and a wave. (If anyone is so inclined, look up the double-slit experiment).
Have I lost anyone yet? A wave is energy. It has no mass. It is not solid. A particle on the other hand, does have mass. It is physically solid. Experiments have proven light to be BOTH. Science once again took credit for something that the Bible said centuries earlier. Because God is light and God is both! How so? Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus is God 'with mass' (and I'm not referring to Catholic mass, it means He is God in solid, physical form). But after Jesus ascended back into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us, and in us. The Holy Spirit is energy. He cannot be seen or felt physically, only in the spirit. He is God in 'wave' form. So as the Beach Boys said, "Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world."
But seriously, how do we 'catch' the Holy Spirit? You have to be born again. As Jesus said, "Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don't be surprised when I say, 'You must be born again.'" Only after you are born again will you be lit from within. Only then can you 'shine'. Yes! There it is. My original quote from "The Shining". Some folks shine! They shine because they have the Holy Spirit within them. God, who is light, radiates from inside of them!
The Bible says "The light of the righteous shines brightly" (Proverbs 13:9), but it also warn us, "watch out that the light in you is not darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays." (Luke 11:35) But "If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:23) Now you might think that is almost as confusing as my little 'science catches up with Christianity' dissertation on light. But let me explain. Not everything that appears as light, is light. The apostle Paul warned us about imitation light, about "false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ." He said not to wonder, "for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
Someone who has the Holy Spirit inside of them can usually discern someone who does not. But satan is very clever and has been practicing his bag of tricks for millienia. Someone can appear to be good, and kind, and even quote Scripture. But remember, satan can quote Scripture, too. However, he will twist the Scripture to say what he wants it to say, and pervert its true meaning. That is one big tip-off. Another is someone who uses favors and compliments to manipulate someone else. Remember, a true Christian encourages others and helps them because they truly love the Lord and other people - not because they want something from them. The Bible says God cannot lie (remember our sermon on truth a few weeks ago?), so someone that lies, no matter how good the lie sounds or how they justify it, is not shining the light of the Holy Spirit, but rather that of the 'father of lies'. And all of this refers to the 'shining' of both people - and places...
And speaking of places, what about this church? Are we shining? And is our light the true light of the Holy Spirit? Do we as a congregation, work together as members of the body of Christ? Remember, a body that has diseased cells, or foreign bacteria, or damaged tissue, cannot function nearly as well as a healthy body. To keep this church healthy, we need to make sure that the light of the Holy Spirit is flowing freely through every member. We must nurture and care for our body - heal that which is diseased, eat the proper spiritual food, and exercise our spiritual muscles. And then, as I demonstrated to the children, we cannot put our light under a bushel and hide it from the world. God called His church to shine their light brightly, to radiate into the community, so that all may come to the light and be saved. We should be drawing people as moths are drawn to a light bulb. If we are not, we are not 'shining'.