I have a table lamp that provides me with much-needed light, especially when the room is dark because my eyes are not what they once were. The lamp has a switch. If I want to read I can choose to turn it on or off. However, if I choose to turn it on, but have not plugged it into the outlet, the lamp will remain dark. Likewise, if I plug in the lamp, I can still choose to turn it off, or choose not to turn it on. The choice is still up to me if I will utilize the power or not.
We are like that table lamp. We were created to shine with the light of Christ (Matt. 5: 14-16). We were created for good works in Christ Jesus (Eph.2:10), but if we are not plugged into THE power source, if we are not born of Spirit and of Truth (Jn. 2:10, 14:6), if we are not abiding in Him (Jn. 15:1-5), then no matter how many times we turn that switch on (attempt goodness apart from Him), we still can’t create light. We are simply incapable in ourselves to live a holy life without the power of the Spirit of God. We have no power to change ourselves, no power to shine, and no power to walk in the miracle of our new lives in Christ. Without the redemptive and regenerative power of Christ within us we are unplugged.
We can look around at the world and see that many people are doing many great things. They do not yet have the eternal power source in Christ, yet there is kindness and acts of heroism, philanthropy and self- sacrifice. I am not saying that these things are not kind or wonderful, and I am not saying that they are not directed by God in His sovereignty (because all good things come from the Father–James 1:17), but they have their source in man and are therefore tainted with sin. There is nothing in these things that a person can boast of before the living God.
We have been graciously given all the power we could ever need to shine the light of Christ through the power of His Spirit, and to walk in God’s strength, but if we choose not to plug into Him and abide, we are powerless to do anything. We may initially think there is light there, but if man has flicked on the switch of his own works outside of the Spirit of the living God, his works are still in darkness. In ourselves we will always lack the power to live as we should.
As a Christ follower I have often struggled to comprehend this truth. I could never quite understand that if it was only the power of Christ within me that could produce good, then how could it be that I still have choice? Is it not up to Him? If I am plugged into Him, should my light not always be on? Thinking about my lamp, I understand in a greater way that as I abide, remaining in the power of the Holy God, I still must decide whether to utilize it or not. Every time I am confronted with a choice, I then have the option of turning on my lamp by flicking the switch to “on”. In other words, I can decide while I am abiding in Christ, to pick up my cross, to deny myself, and to follow Him. He has given me the freedom and the power to do this, all I need to do is choose. Like my lamp I can at that moment decide to turn on the light, or I can embrace the darkness and hinder the Holy Spirit’s power in my life by choosing my own way. In effect, I can put my light under a basket and the room remains in the dark (Matt. 5:14-16).
The analogy is simple. Just as a lamp can make no light outside its power source, neither can I shine outside of Him. Just as a lamp can be turned on and off at will, so do I have the choice to choose His way over my own way when I am abiding in Him.
Today, let us recognise this simple truth. Let us embrace the graciousness of our God Who empowers us through the cross to submit to His will and to shine His light to a darkened world for His glory’s sake. Let us remain plugged in, and keep turning that light switch to “on” with our daily choices (Col. 3:17).