“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:5-6
The first spoken words of God recorded in the Scriptures are: “Let there be light!” All creatures depend on the created light for life and survival, but the souls of all people depend upon the light that comes from God through His Son. As Jesus Himself said, “I am the light of the world; He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12).
The glory of God shines forth in the face of Jesus Christ, because that face did not turn away from sinners but rather sought to save them. His face had compassion upon the multitudes. When the time came, He set His face to go to Jerusalem and to endure the cross. His face shone in benevolence upon those who wondered whether He had, in fact, risen from the dead.
When you see His face, you understand it is the face of God’s mercy. Sent by the Father, Jesus Christ willingly carried away our guilt and shame while covering us with the glory of His own righteousness. Every promise; every kind, forgiving word; yes, every encouraging, uplifting, life-giving message from the Word of God is seen reflected in the face of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Though Jesus Christ no longer walks on the face of the earth, we still see His face every time His encouraging, uplifting, life-giving words speak to us from the pages of Holy Writ. The glory is not reckoned on the basis of the impact He has on the eyes, but on the basis of the impact He has on the heart.
The first thing the Lord did to change His creation from a dark, formless void was to say, “Let there be light!” To change our condition from being empty and lifeless to being meaningful and alive, God had to shine His light into our hearts. And so He has “shined in our hearts” through His gospel in Word and Sacrament.
The impact that the light had on God’s creation was stunning, and the impact that the light of the gospel has on the heart of sinful man is no less. It makes all the difference in the world. It changes us from being lost to being found, from being adrift to having a purpose, from being dead to being alive!
Shine, Jesus, Shine!
Where the light of Jesus is shining, you will find a heart that has been moved to repent. This heart is truly sorry for sins and willing to confess them. More than that, it is willing to let go of things around which our ego has a white-knuckled grip. We don’t want to let go! We would like to take at least a little bit of credit, to receive a little praise, to find some value in ourselves. But the veil is still over our eyes. It is only when we let such things completely go that we will finally realize just how marvelous and complete is the gift that Christ gives us. We can experience true glory only when we let go of our glory, because then He will cover us with His glory.
When we represent ourselves as the Church of the Lutheran Confession and offer our testimony to the world, we want to always make sure that it is not about us. We are like John in the wilderness who pointed to Jesus and said: “Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). “Don’t look at me; look at Him!”
Even when people can see the wonderful things God has done among us, even when they behold the love that we share, it is still about God and what God has done. “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
What was true about the congregation in Corinth is also true about the CLC–it is not about us. It is only about Christ Jesus. Our calling is to be a means by which His light shines in the world.
The way to do this is to keep on basking in the light of the glorious gospel of Christ–that is, to hear it, learn from it, apply it, and share it. When the glory of God in Christ Jesus is shining into our hearts, then there will be no way to prevent that light from shining forth, no way to hide the glory of God that shines most brightly in the face of Jesus Christ.
Shine, Jesus, shine! Amen.
–Pastor Delwyn Maas