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Shining Light Or Casting Shadows

By Cory Swinderman, Pastor Chrisman Church of the Nazarene

Pastor Cory Swinderman

Speaker and writer, Shola Richards, was once given this insight from his Mother: “There are two kinds of people: those who make you feel good when they walk into the room, and those who make you feel good when they walk out of the room (from a talk at 2021 Global Leadership Summit).”
We each might readily think of people who fit each of these two categories. Perhaps we all could think of examples of how we represented both of these people as well.
But as we reflect on this point, let’s ask these questions: “What do people do to make the rooms they walk into brighter places?” and “What do people do to make the rooms they walk into darker places?”
When we think of a person who makes a room a darker place, we think of things like criticism, conflict, pride, anger, and self-centeredness. This person is consumed with something, and he or she do not realize the importance of light being shown in this moment, in this room, or with these people.
Light, on the other hand, is shown through acts of kindness, hospitality, humility, love, forgiveness, and generosity. Value is shown to this moment, this room, and these people.
I imagine an image like this went through Jesus’s mind when he told his disciples, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34b-35).
These words of Jesus are recorded at the Passover meal he ate with his disciples. Darkness and shadows hung around the moment. Judas had just left to betray Jesus (John 13:29). This was their last supper together. By this time tomorrow, Jesus would lie lifeless in a tomb.
The disciples did little to shine light in this dark moment. They ended up in another insignificant fight, among themselves, over insignificant things.
“Who is the greatest disciple?” “I am.” “No, I am” (Luke 22:24). They further cast shadows on an already dark room.
Yet Jesus shown light. He humbly washed their feet. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1b). Jesus loved them to the end.
Jesus shown light in every room he entered, and he asks those who bear his name to do the same.
It is easy to see how valuable that moment in the Upper Room was for Jesus and his disciples, but it is not as easy to see value in all of the rooms we walk into. After all, Leonardo Da Vinci will not be painting your board room at work on a wall at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy.
The dinner you eat with your family tonight in the kitchen, will not be remembered for thousands of years by worshipers at churches. We see the value in the Upper Room, and roll our eyes at the disciples who were too busy fighting to see it.
Yet Jesus’s lesson to them is an important lesson for us. This is not a moment for fighting and pride; our time is too short. This room is not a place for criticism and self-centeredness, these people are too important.
There is nothing that this dark world needs more than the light of Jesus.
Jesus, please fill us with your light, so that we might shine forth your light in each room we enter today.

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