This Little Light (Part 3)

 Hello from 37,000 feet! I am writing today’s post from the air as I am on my way back to Maryland for Christmas and the New Year.

Over the past two weeks, I have written about the Light referred to in Chapter 1 of the Book of John in the Bible. We have talked about how the Light was a person and how He, Jesus, brought hope to the world and continues to, even today. We also discussed the relation between Christmas and the light. Today, I want to take a look at why this picture of light and hope is so important to the work in which I am involved in Nicaragua and our lives. John 8:12 says, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life'” (NIV 1984). Have you ever considered how bold of a statement that is? This day and age, it is not hard to find someone who says, “Follow these instructions and your life will be better”. In fact, there is an entire industry and book section that goes by the name “Self-Help” where you can find thousands of ways to improve your life. In many cases, you can glean some helpful life tips, but in most cases the people who wrote these books aren’t claiming to be able to permanently alter your life for eternity and, if they do, we typically dismiss them as crazy. This, however, is exactly what Jesus was saying. He was saying, “Follow me and you will have a hope that cannot be taken away and can overcome anything you will ever encounter, even death.” Not only that, he was also claiming to not just have the light, but to be the Light; the one and only source. That is a pretty radical statement and should give us pause the next time we think, “Jesus was just a nice guy who helped people and had some great instructions for living”. Jesus claimed to be someone far greater than that. Everyone has to go through their own journey to find the truth, but I have found Jesus’ claims to be true and it has changed my life. In looking through the New Testament of the Bible and history, you can find many people who have come to this same conclusion.

What, then, does this mean for what VNDF is doing in Nicaragua and for our lives? In my nine months in Nicaragua, I have come to truly believe the biggest limiting factor in life, both physically and spiritually, is a lack of hope. I believe this lack of hope is part of the “darkness” Jesus was referring to in John 8. In fact, I would say hopelessness is a byproduct of sin and a broken world. When God created the world, I believe it was full of hope and void of hopelessness. It wasn’t until our relationship with God was broken that humans began to lack hope. Enter Jesus. If you read through the Gospels, you will find that Jesus came to redeem and restore this broken relationship. Now, through a relationship with Jesus Christ, we are again able to receive our hope from the one and only source from which we were created to receive it, God our creator. The spiritual and eternal implications of this are remarkable. We can now have the hope to spend eternity the way we were always created to, in a perfect relationship with God, the source of life. In this we can find ultimate joy and hope as we are finally able to live as we were designed to, in a constant relationship with our Father. I believe, however, if we stop there, we aren’t seeing the full picture. I believe being in a right relationship with God gives us an accurate picture of who we were created to be today. You see, if we believe God has our best interests in mind and designed us in his image, we suddenly no longer have to buy into the lie that our lives can never change for the better. It is here that I believe this “light of life” can bring hope to the darkness in our present lives. It is not to say our lives suddenly get better because we are in a relationship with Christ, but that the hope that comes from a complete picture of that relationship and who we are in Christ can change the picture we have of our future. Instead of accepting, out of fear or resignation, that “things are just the way they are”, we will be willing to take steps to live into the person we were created to be. It is this picture that we, at VNDF, through partnerships with local churches, hope to help people in Nicaragua see. We have the audacity to believe this could change the future of lives, communities and even an entire country. I believe this is true in our personal lives as well. This little, not so little, light, truly is the Light of the World.

This is what we celebrate at Christmas; the entrance of the Light of the World who changes everything, for today and forever. Is this the picture you have of Christmas? We will look this entrance a little more next week. Merry Christmas.

-James Belt

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