Credit: Liam Mcgarry

‘Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.’ – 1 John 2:9-10 (NIV)


Love is the Brightest Light of Them All – written by Rev Victoria Fagg, MAF UK

Have you ever been to the theatre or seen actors on a stage?

Even if you haven’t, bear with me for a while. You see, shows like these take a storytelling experience to another level. Forget sitting in front of a TV screen; there is something tangible about being in the same room as the actors, with all the lights and scenery and sound effects. You can literally feel the music throbbing through the soles of your feet as you sit on the edge of your seat, emotions racing through your body, eyes fixated on the leading actors. Plays, musicals, the ballet, opera, comedies, pantomimes – each an experience you are unlikely to forget.

But can you imagine, just for a moment, what your experience would be like without all the background stuff? Imagine how hard it would be to hear without good quality amplification. And what if the lights remained off? You wouldn’t be able to see what the show was about, would you?

Let there be light…

Picture this – the creation story, live from London’s West End.

The room is dark and silent, apparently void of anything. Suddenly, a big booming voice overhead calls out, ‘Let there be light.’ In response, all the house lights are instantly turned up, with every stage light on full beam! It’s a sight, I’m sure, that’s pretty overwhelming!

The background lighting captures the feeling, with bright colours and strong beams cutting through the haze – the colours changing at any given moment. Then, there’s the front-of-stage lighting – nice and bright – enabling us to see specific details. There are lights that add sparkle, lighting that creates tension, and spotlights that follow the lead actors around, helping the foreground to stand out from the background.

Although the different lights are important and necessary, it’s the spotlight that really catches our attention – enabling a connection between the audience and the emotion of those performing.

A long, long time ago…

Once upon a time, some 2,000 years ago in what is now modern-day Israel, God placed a spotlight in the sky that would lead a number of men to a baby lying in a manger. The restoration of humankind to its Creator had begun, and it didn’t look like anything people were expecting. Thirty-three years later, as Jesus took His last breath on the cross and declared, ‘It is finished’, a tortured Christ left this world – temporarily leaving His people more confused than ever.

Today, we know that the crucifixion was not the final act. Jesus overcame death and rose again, revealing Himself to some astonished women and initially unbelieving men. He met Thomas in his doubts, comforted and walked with His disciples, and later appeared to Saul on the Damascus Road with a light that blinded and a grace that transformed.

Shine your light…

And the Light of the World continues to shine. Enabled by the gift of His Holy Spirit, you and I are also called the ‘light in the darkness’. But often, in our attempts to ‘enlighten’, we inadvertently create a chasm that pushes people further into their darkness.

Yes, sin needs to be exposed. But without insight and mercy, when we name, we also shame. Yes, culture needs addressing, but without introspection and humility, when we attack and withdraw, we polarise and divide too. It’s a narrow road we walk, but it’s a road that’s lit by the brightest light of all – love!

Other-centred love…

Love doesn’t always look the way we imagine. It is other-centred and brave. When we love – as Jesus loves – we meet people where they’re at. We lean into their worlds without judgment or pride. We journey with them at their pace, offering kindness and grace with every opportunity. We start to see them, and I mean really see them.

We get to understand better a person’s ‘why’ and are privileged with insight into their story. This is the ‘background stuff’ that informs our life experience – remember the lights and sounds at the theatre? Our job isn’t to convict or change people. It’s to help them experience Jesus for themselves, every day of their lives. He is the One who transforms, heals and redeems. He is the light of the world (John 8:12).

This has been the vision of MAF for over 75 years, to see isolated people changed by Christ’s love.

John 3:16 reminds us that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, and it’s this place from which we operate – as people who love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). It’s this kind of love that lights up the world.

1.     Take a moment to reflect on what you’ve read and ask the Holy Spirit to shine a spotlight on anyone to whom you can bring God’s love and light. Maybe it will mean welcoming them into your home or setting an extra place at your table for dinner…

2.     Remember, it’s a privilege to hear another person’s story and gain an insight into the background stuff of life. How can you be more intentional in meeting people where they are at, creating a safe space in which they feel able to share their story with you?


God, thank You for Your love – a love like no other, that illuminates the dark places in our lives and in our hearts, but that does so without condemnation or judgement; instead breathing life and hope and restoration to even the most wounded of souls.

Help us, Lord, to share the light of Your Holy Spirit, to be intentionally other-centred without judgement or agenda. And may it be from the privileged position of enlightenment that we never cease praying – confident that the darkness around us can never extinguish the light of Jesus.

In Jesus’ name,



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