“Night is when the stars come out.” How many times have you heard people say that? Seems right, doesn’t it? But if it’s true, where have the stars been? If they’ve just come out, where have they come from?
Of course, we know the stars are there all the time. It’s just because of the brightness and comparative proximity of our sun, they can’t be seen during the day. That is, unless we’re using a powerful telescope or, better yet, board a NASA or SpaceX rocket and venture beyond our atmosphere. Then, away from the illumination of our sun, we would have the opportunity to get a better glimpse of the countless stars – much larger “suns” – that populate our vast universe.
This may seem like one of those “duh!” observations, but it came to mind when a lead character in one of my favorite TV shows noted, “Darkness only makes the stars shine brighter.”
Why does this matter? Why this concentration on the constellations? Because it seems we’re surrounded by darkness these days – the ongoing impact of the pandemic; economic turmoil; social unrest; global conflict; violence, gloom and doom at every turn.
We sure could use some stars to dispel the darkness.
This is significant, because in the Scriptures, God’s people are compared to stars. For instance, in the Old Testament the prophet Daniel stated, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
A New Testament verse makes a similar statement. In one of his letters, the apostle Paul exhorted his readers, “…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like the stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15).
What does that mean for us? It certainly doesn’t suggest that we ourselves are stars. Both passages say we’re to be “like stars.” In a powerful metaphor, the Bible declares that once we were wandering in darkness ourselves, apart from God. But then, in a literal, spiritual sense, we “saw the light,” as the prophet Isaiah declared, “The people walking in the darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).
That “great light” is Jesus Christ, who announced, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, 9:5). We ourselves are not the stars generating our own light, but we can reflect the light of Christ – just as the moon reflects the sun – and we can point others to that life-changing, transforming light.
This is why Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” We ourselves are not the light-generators, but ones called to present the source of illumination to others. Just as the prophets did during Old Testament times: “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).
But how are we to go about doing this? Do we run around telling people, “Hey, we’ve got the light. Come and see!” That’s definitely one approach. One of Jesus’ disciples, Philip, did with his friend, Nathanael. He told him, “‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked. ‘Come and see,’ said Philip’” (John 1:44-46).
But there’s another strategy that’s just as effective, maybe even better. Conducting our lives in such a way that the light of Christ shines through us, so that people can’t help but notice. Yes, we’re told to proclaim the truth, but usually it’s after we’ve earned the right to be heard.
I like how Oswald Chambers expresses it in his devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest: “The people who influence us the most are not those who detain us with their continual talk, but those who live their lives like the stars of the sky…simply and unaffectedly.” It’s dark out there. Are you ready to shine?
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.