Sekai no Hikari: Light of the World

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden…In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Do you get Christmas?

Okay, first off, I’m super tempted to rant about Duck Dynasty right now, but I won’t. And here’s why: There are more important things in life than arguing about celebrities. Yes, I understand that America is not going down a good path, and I understand that theoretically, this intolerance of Christians could lead to persecution, but no matter how angry we get, it won’t change things. And frankly, we Christians need to accept that things are going to get worse before they get better.

Anyway…back to the thing I was actually posting about: Christmas. Now around Christmastime, there are always a flurry (no pun intended) of blog posts about everything that’s wrong with the modern conception of Christmas: too much consumerism, too many “pagan traditions,” too little helping the poor, too many people who insist on keeping nativity scenes out of public places, the list goes on. But does this really change things? Maybe for a select few, but for the majority, hearing what they’re doing wrong at a time that’s supposed to be about grace and peace? Not helpful. I believe that the way to change Christmas for the better is not to stop giving gifts or do anything radical. The radical-ness has already been done. Instead of doing and going and working to be better people, we need to focus on Christmas. The self-improvement will come naturally as a result.

Christmas is about Christ. Plain and simple. It is about remembering the most beautiful story ever told. And guess what? It’s true. If you are not absolutely blown away by what happened at Christmas, you need to do some remembering. Maybe getting some new perspectives will help a bit. I know when I discovered how ineffably amazing Christmas was, it was because I really got it. I understood the gospel. Now I’m going to say a few things that really make Christmas come alive for me.

One of my favorite names for God is Emmanuel – God with us. Now, we take the concept of God being with us for granted, since many of us have been around it for a while. But deists don’t believe God is even involved in the universe, much less that He is with us. Buddhists don’t believe in a personal God. Muslims believe that Allah sends prophets and such, but never that he actually lives with us on this earth. But we believe that God – the creator of all things, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, infinite God – actually limited his infinity. How does this work? Well, in mathematics, there is the expansive kind of infinity. From infinitely negative to infinitely positive, from past to future. But there are also an infinite number of numbers between zero and one. Therefore, infinity is actually contained in a way we can understand. That’s what God the Son did when he became Jesus, the human being. He contained his greatness in a human shell, yet he was still fully God. We believe that God Himself deigned to come to our world and walk among us.

Another one of my favorite ways to understand Christmas is the song, “Welcome to our World” by Chris Rice. Here are the lyrics:

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking,
How we need to hear from God,
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting,
Welcome Holy Child,
Welcome Holy Child.

Hope that you don’t mind our manger,
How I wish we would have known,
But long-awaited Holy Stranger,
Make yourself at home,
Please, make yourself at home.

Bring your peace into our violence,
Bid our hungry souls be filled,
Word now breaking heaven’s silence,
Welcome to our world,
Welcome to our world.

Fragile finger sent to heal us,
Tender brow prepared for thorn,
Tiny heart whose blood will save us,
Unto us is born,
Unto us is born.

So wrap our injured flesh around you,
Breathe our air and walk our sod,
Rob our sin and make us holy,
Perfect Son of God,
Perfect Son of God,
Welcome to our world.

So there you have it. The creator who became his creation, the artist who became his art. Jesus, the only one who could save us, is born. And we are saved because of it.

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My Significance Prayer

Lord, don’t let me be significant without You.
Don’t ever let me gain glory for myself;
For with You I am full, I am complete.
Without You I am just an empty shell,
A hollow husk just waiting to be filled.
The box is never kept just for itself,
But for the gift that’s waiting to be opened.
So fill me, Lord, and let me be the jar,
That holds the Beautiful Living Water.
With You, let me be great, and smart, and strong,
All things impossible, if not for You.
Use me to spread your truth to every place.
Through You I can be light to the world.
I pray that You would use me every day!

 

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Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams

        Recently, I listened to another song by Britt Nicole called “Still that Girl,” and the chorus really reminded me of lots of times in my life, as well as other people’s. It goes like this:

You were young, you were free/And you dared to believe/You could be the girl/That could change the world/Then your life took a turn/And you fell, and it hurt/But you’re still that girl/And you’re going to change this world

        My dreams have died many times, and my life has turned for the worse many times. But the nice thing about God is that the worse becomes the better for those who love him. Suffering brings hope and makes us the child of God that we were always meant to be. When we fall, God will be there to help us get back up.

        Speaking of children, I think we all need to be more in touch with our inner child in several ways. First of all, children are humble, and we need to be like that. (This one, Jesus said.) Secondly, children are hopeful. Their hope is contagious, so spend time with kids! Finally, children have big dreams. God is the One that gives us passions and dreams, and kids seem to know this. I think we should never stop dreaming. If you have the right attitude, and the right heart, God can use you in huge ways.

        Never forget this: that from the teenager waiting for her life to begin, to the 80-year-old who feels useless, everyone can be used by God. Never give up on your dreams! God is infinitely bigger than any obstacle. You are important and valuable, and you have been saved, and redeemed, and set free. Now you will do great things for God in your own unique way!

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Amazing Grace

        In my first post, I mentioned Avatar: The Last Airbender as a show that reminds me a lot of Christianity. One of my favorite scenes in the entire show is in the final episode. I’ll post a link to the scene, and a transcription of it, below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na56wihXMn4

        The characters involved in this part of the show are Zuko, a prince who was banished by his father, and Iroh, his uncle. Here, Zuko is apologizing to Iroh for a lifetime of evil.

<Iroh wakes up and sees Zuko>

Zuko: Uncle, I know you must have mixed feelings about seeing me. But I want you to know, I am so, so sorry, Uncle. I am so sorry and ashamed of what I did. I don’t know how I can ever make it up to you. But I –

<Iroh hugs him>

Zuko: How can you forgive me so easily? I thought you would be furious with me!

Iroh: I was never angry with you. I was sad, because I was afraid you’d lost your way.

Zuko: I did lose my way.

Iroh: But you found it again.

        I think this paints a picture of God’s grace that many of us desperately need to see. We all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), but when we sin, God is not like a harsh taskmaster in the sky. The other day, while doing a project, I came across something describing God as a “homophobic sky fairy.” Whoever wrote that has it all wrong. God is not afraid of anyone’s sin. If we are babies with dirty diapers, He holds us close, because He sees us as being worth enduring the stench of a dirty diaper. Even people who seem beyond redemption, even to the most tolerant person out there, are still valuable to God.

        He grieves over those who have lost their way. For every tear we cry, and for every ounce of energy we expend trying to find our own way, He cries a hundred tears, and devotes his boundless stores of energy to taking all the steps necessary to woo us back to Him. Yet, he leaves the final choice up to us, because he wants us to be free. He loves us with a love that surpasses all boundaries of sin, all laws of this world, and all the burdens of guilt we heap upon ourselves.

        And for those of us who find our way, guided by Jesus, God celebrates, and welcomes back with open arms. He calls us. He says, “Come. I can clean your mess. I can wash your stains. Break your chains. My grace is sufficient.” God is not angry with us. He wants us to return to him. He loves us with an everlasting love.

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Inner Fire

        I thought I’d start off by telling you a little bit about my inspiration for the name of this blog. I started with the idea of fire. Somehow, fire (or light) is linked to purpose, hope, and drive, especially in Christian contexts. I got that idea from two sources: an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and a song.

        Avatar is not the most “Christian” show in the world, but I do find that it has elements to it that remind me a lot of Christianity. In the episode, one of the characters speaks of his “inner fire” and how he’d lost it when he changed sides, but then regained it.

        The song that inspired me is one of my current favorites, called “The Lost Get Found,” by Britt Nicole. The lyrics are:

Hello my friend
I remember when you were
So alive with your wide eyes, then the light that you had in your heart was stolen
Now you say that it ain’t worth stayin’
You wanna run but you’re hesitatin’
I’m talkin’ to me

Don’t let your lights go down
Don’t let your fire burn out
Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don’t you rise up now?
Don’t be afraid to stand out
That’s how the lost get found
The lost get found

So when you get the chance, are you gonna take it
There’s a really big world at your fingertips
And you know you have the chance to change it
There’s a girl on the streets, she’s cryin’
There’s a man whose faith is dying
Love is calling you

Don’t let your lights go down
Don’t let your fire burn out
Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don’t you rise up now?
Don’t be afraid to stand out
That’s how the lost get found
The lost get found

Why do we go with the flow?
Why take the easier road?
Why are we playin’ it safe?
Love came to show us the way
Love is a chance we should take
I’m movin’ out of the way

Don’t let your lights go down
Don’t let your fire burn out
Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Don’t let your lights go down
Don’t let your fire burn out

Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don’t you rise up now?
Don’t be afraid to stand out
That’s how the lost get found
The lost get found

So when you get the chance
Are you gonna take it
There’s a really big world at your fingertips
And you know you have the chance to change it

        So you can see how that inspired the naming of this blog. I figured that as a Christian, my “inner fire” comes from Jesus. And it is my duty and privilege as a Christian to light up the world with my inner fire. That led me to the name of this blog, and the Bible verse, which is one of my favorites.

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