In Victorian England, just at sunset, a lamplighter would kindle the lights on the darkening streets of London. One man would visit eighty lamps, lighting each wick at dusk and extinguishing each flame at daybreak. The next night he would travel the same route. The first streetlights were oil lamps; so the men climbed ladders to replenish the supply of oil, clean the glass and trim the wicks. Later, when gas-lit lamps replaced the oil burners, the lamplighter still made his rounds, lighting each lamp. Occasionally he reset the posts or did repair work.
I see Jesus as a lamplighter too. Like His Victorian counter-part, he visits each of us in turn and kindles a spiritual flame in our hearts.
I started out as a cold, empty lamp, disappearing into the darkness each night. When the Holy Spirit kindled a salvation fire inside my heart, he changed me permanently into a source of light for this world.
Check out Ephesians 5:8-10 (NIV):
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light (for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
A lamp lit with a flame glows with light—that’s its essential quality. In the same way, God often uses us when we aren’t looking, to reveal his reality and goodness to unbelievers. I came to know Christ at Michigan State University. I’d shrugged off Christians before—as a pride-filled atheist, I didn’t need any ‘make-believe god’ to take care of me. Religious crutches were for weak people—not stark realists like myself. But these MSU Christians changed my life. They loved me, frequently prayed for my salvation and unconsciously showed me Jesus’ reality–I saw Christ’s nature in each of them.
All Christians are God’s light in this world. We share that attribute with our Savior. The more our hearts follow after Jesus, the brighter our light becomes–because we start to be like Him.
But our light can be dimmed. Take a look at this corroded, muddy lantern. Little inner light can escape, even with fresh oil, a good wick and a bright flame..The glass is far too dirty.
But not always.
As a young Christian, I had an unfortunate habit of arguing with everyone. It was part of my sin nature which the Lord hadn’t dealt with yet. One day, an unbelieving housemate said, “Maureen, if you’re a Christian, I don’t want to be one.” Her words crushed me, because in my heart I really did love Jesus.
A few minutes later, I went to her room and quietly asked why she felt that way. She said “Maureen, you argue about everything.” I thanked her, went back to my room and cried, asking God to change me–and over the next few years, He did.
Here’s what I wonder. My lamp’s glass was caked with mud–my housemate couldn’t see any Christ-likeness in me at all. But when my heart broke at her words, a little light leaked out. She’d never seen humility in me, or a quiet brokenness or a repentant spirit. I know her rebuke changed my life; I wonder–did it change hers?
(The ‘cat next to the lantern’ image came from Morguefile.com. All other images came from Pixabay.com.)