Warmth and Light are Not the Same

  “The sun is always brighter when it is this cold outside.”


I was walking to my car, bundled up tight with hat, scarf, and mittens, when I realized that I didn’t have my sunglasses. I hadn’t realized how blinding it was outside until I actually opened the door. As I turned around to go back and get them, my husband told me a simple fact, "The sun is always brighter when it is this cold outside." (He has a meteorology degree, and likes to share tidbits like that with me on occasion. I guess it has something to do with the extremely low dew points that come with super cold temperatures.)


And, by this cold, I mean freeze your nose hairs and wonder why on earth you live in a cold climate frigid.  Overnight lows around 15 degrees below zero. Highs above zero if we are lucky. This week is January hitting us between the eyes.


As I cozied up for a day spent primarily indoors, I kept looking out the window and thinking of my husband’s statement. It was bright out there. Freezing cold, yet sunnier than a mid-July heat wave.


We think of the sun as being our source of light and warmth. And it is, when you think globally. The earth needs the warmth of the sun in order to possess life. Yet, not all parts of the earth receive equal doses of that warmth at all times of the year.


Yet, whenever the sun is above our horizons, it never fails to give us light. Even when its rays are blocked by clouds, the sun is still shining.


Jesus calls himself the Light of the World. Not the warmth, but the light.


There is an important difference between warmth and light. They are connected, yes, but also distinct. Warmth changes how we feel. Light changes how we see.


Jesus is often marketed as the Savior who makes us feel good. Accept Jesus into your life and you will be happy. He is the friend who will be with you forever. You will never have to worry again.


Those things aren’t necessarily untrue. But they are also heavy with unrealistic expectations. Our feelings change with the seasons. We will have times of exuberant joy, when we realize the depth of Jesus’ love for us. When we want to simply lay down and bask in the glow of His glory. But, there will be other times when we will not feel the warmth of Jesus’ presence. We will encounter difficult moments in life that shiver us cold with questions of where is God in the midst of pain.


Warm feelings are fleeting. Light greets us every day.


Like the sun that is trustworthy to rise each morning and illuminate our surroundings, Jesus invites us to open our eyes and see the world through His light. Jesus came to heal the sick, correct injustice, and spread love to a hurting world. He touched those who had been isolated and valued those who had been cast off. Jesus sees every human as what we are: broken but beautiful beings infused with worth and potential from the love of a grace-filled God.


Jesus shines His light into darkness, reaching out to help people see their valued identity as God’s children. And He tells us, as His light-bearers, to do the same.


Even if that means shining our lights the brightest in the coldest places.


I wish I could wrap this post up with some nice concrete action steps for each of us to consider as light-bearers, but I cannot. There is so much I am still trying to figure out about what it means to live out this calling of Jesus to be the light. Especially in times and places when it doesn't feel warm and good to do so.


So perhaps I will simply end with a prayer for Jesus' light:


Jesus help me see. Jesus help me shine.