By Kyle Idleman
Why Pastors Ain’t Science Teachers.
(Here in Kentucky, I’ve learned I’m allowed to use the word “ain’t” sometimes. I prefer to use it in combination with ya’ll. So, I hope ya’ll get something out of this even though I ain’t no science teacher. Also, I have no idea how ya’ll (y’all?) is spelled. Let me know in the comments.)
Do you remember learning about photosynthesis? Basically (very basically), Photosynthesis is the idea that the sun, up in the sky, shines light down here, which is what allows life on earth.
The sun allows plant life on earth, it brings vitality to our red and white blood cells, and strengthens our immune system. The sun has even been shown to bring people a sense of well-being; people who live in places where the sun rarely shines statistically struggle more with depression. The light of the sun brings life physically here on earth.
Okay, now that I’ve butchered science, here’s the point.
Just as the sun brings life here on earth physically, the Son brings life here on earth spiritually. The Son of God came to our world to bring life to our souls. Without Jesus in your life, you aren’t really living. It’s like living in the dark.
John explains Christmas this way, in the first chapter of his gospel, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” and then wrote in 1 John 5:12, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Maybe, but John also makes it clear that there are many people who will shun the light. He writes about Jesus, in 1 John 1:4-5, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness…” but then gives the sad response of many, “But the darkness has not understood it.”
Some of the people you love, some of the people you work with, some of the people in your neighborhood, you’ve tried to tell them about Jesus, but they just don’t get it.
They don’t understand.
Nothing is more frustrating and sad than having someone we care about say no to the very thing that will bring them life.
There’s this book about a fateful expedition up Mount Everest called Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer. In it he tells about Andy Harris who led people to the summit of Mount Everest for a living.
One time, Harris stayed at the peak too long and found himself in dire need of oxygen. He radioed down to base camp to explain his predicament. He was told where he could find some oxygen canisters up on the mountain. Harris finally found them, but radioed down that they were empty. The people at base camp knew they weren’t and asked if he had tried them. He said, “I haven’t tried them because they’re empty.” They tried to convince him, “No, they’re full. Try them.” He insisted, “They’re empty. I won’t try them.” And Andy Harris died right there, because of a lack of oxygen, holding full bottles of oxygen.
Why couldn’t he see it? Because he didn’t have it. He couldn't see there was oxygen because he didn’t have enough oxygen. He couldn’t see it because he didn’t have it.
That’s true spiritually as well. It is very difficult for those who are in darkness to see the light. It’s right there. We know it. We can see it. Why don’t they see it? Because they don’t have it. That’s one of the reasons why it is on us, as a church, to shine that light even more brightly - so that those who are in darkness will see it.
This little light of mine.
As Christians our goal, our purpose, is to shine the light of Christ into the darkness. Jesus said, in Matthew 5, “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.” Why would you light a lamp only to cover it up?
Jesus says, “Instead they put it on its stand.” Why? So, Jesus says, it can “give 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.”
Jesus says we shine His light through our good deeds, through acts of compassion and service and love. We do good deeds, not so people will see something special in us, but so they’ll see the light of Him.
What can you do to shine the light (Seriously, I want to know, comment with some ideas)? It doesn’t necessarily have to be something big and bold. Even a small light in the darkness can shine bright and make a big difference.
It could be:
- Taking some cookies to a neighbor
- Bringing a meal to someone who is sick
- Asking a teacher if there’s a student who needs some extra school supplies
- Taking donuts into work, or dropping some off at a fire station
- Leaving a huge tip and an encouraging note for your waitress.
Perhaps doing something even relatively small sounds like a lot right now. If so, remember that this light is not self-generated. This is a light that comes from the Light of the world.
When you accept Jesus as your Savior, He makes your heart His home and that light starts to shine through you. So, if you feel a bit intimidated, like maybe you don’t have light to give, I’d encourage you to spend some time with God. Read your Bible, pray, do the things that help you to feel God’s presence and receive His love. As you allow His light to shine in your life, you’ll find that you’re able to let your light shine, that people may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
So, let’s hear it. How are you going to let your light shine this Christmas?