From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Two, Day Four

The Name
According to Jewish tradition, one of the names for the Messiah is "Light." How fitting, then, that Jesus is called the "Light of the world." John's Gospel portrays Jesus as the light that vanquishes the darkness brought on by sin — a darkness that ends in death. Christ has opened the eyes of a sin-darkened world to the truth of the gospel. We who believe in him have moved from darkness to light, from death to life. When we pray to Jesus as the Light of the world, let us remember that we are calling on the One who was so determined to draw us into his light that he spent nine months in the darkness of his mother's womb in order to become one of us. Let us ask Jesus, our Light, to make us shine with his reflected glory.

Key Scripture
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12


 Praying the Name

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. 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 praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14 - 16

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. Philipp ians 2:14 - 16

Reflect On: Matthew 5:14 - 16 and Philippians 2:14 - 16.

Praise God: For his unswerving plan for the world.

Offer Thanks: For the high calling of God on your life.

Confess: Any apathy toward the poor and the oppressed.

Ask God: To increase your passion for the lost.

Westerners rarely if ever think about the meaning behind names. When expectant parents start shopping for names, they don't generally discuss the fact that Brian means "strength" or that Carlos means "expressive." They pick popular names, ones that sound pleasant or that remind them of friends and family. But naming customs vary. In China, where my daughters were born, a baby's given name is thought to express her destiny. Though I don't subscribe to that belief, I would be happy if it worked out that way for my children because Katherine Ailin means "Pure Light" and Luci means "Light." You could say that I am surrounded by light, at least in theory.

That is not a bad picture of what God intends for us — to live with him in paradise, to be surrounded by his light, hemmed in by his glory. That has always been his intention — to create a world where love is normative.

• In paradise there are no food pantries, foster homes, prisons, halfway houses, hospitals, or funeral homes because love is normative.
• In paradise there are no depressed, confused, broken, bitter, or lonely people because love is normative.
• In paradise there is no prejudice because love is normative.
• In paradise there are no wasting plagues, no howling wastelands because love is normative.
• In paradise there is no fear, only perfect peace and unbroken harmony.

Can you begin to comprehend the tragedy of our fall from grace? But even though we are living in a fallen world, the light has not been extinguished. God is still with us, still wooing and calling us back into the light. And he invites us not simply to rest in his light but to become light bearers ourselves, bringing about his kingdom on earth. We are to be his hands, to express his heart, and to reproduce his character to our families, our coworkers, in hospitals, foster homes, and halfway houses. We are to roll back the darkness with the light of Christ's presence. That's the purpose for which you and I were created. Yet tragically our efforts are often halfhearted. We lose our sense of urgency for the world's grief. We get comfortable, busy, sated, dull. And the light in us wanes.

Pray today to know what in your life may be obstructing Christ's light. Then determine to do without it. Ask God to shine his face upon you and enable you to work for the coming of the light. 

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Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.