Daniel 12:3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
Sometimes the most important lessons are the ones that children most easily learn. From this one would expect that if it is simple enough for a child to grasp, then it should be easy for the rest of us. But for some reason this does not seem to be the case. For example, there is a song that children like to sing called the ark song, and it has a chorus which goes, "rise and shine and give god the glory" Ė the song has simple actions, and if you keep your attention on God, well, all goes well, but often we have people clowning around, and that distracts everyone from the real point, to give glory to God. But thatís who faith begins, can I do something simple, like stand up, to the glory of God, and keep all my attention on God? Most children catch on to this quickly.
Which brings us to the second song, "this little gospel light of mine" it also has a simple point. God gave us a light which shines in our lives, it is the new life, given to us in baptism as a child of God, as a child of God, God has put his light in us. Some people try to hide it. Some people try to put it out. God gave the light so that we could shine, and that the light would guide others to Jesus, so that they can be saved and shine. Children learn that they are lights, and that it is good to shine with Godís light. And they are not at all embarrassed to talk about Jesus or salvation.
But somewhere along the line, in the process of growing up, we begin to think that we donít want to rise and shine, and we donít want to give God glory, at least not now, maybe later. And somewhere along the line, we begin to hide our light under a bushel basket, I really donít know why, perhaps we noticed that we were different, many others had no Gospel light, and we thought we wanted to fit in, so we hid oursÖ. Or maybe we let someone blow it outÖ..
The problem is that once the light is out, and God is gone [or at least out of our lives] the world is a dark place. With no light to guide us, we do not know where we are going. And it is not much fun to stumble lost in the dark day after day. And without faith we all turn into gloomy gus, and the only news is bad news, for without faith we, and the whole world are left in the dark.
But God is coming, soon. And God expects for all to be ready, for when God comes, he will be coming to judge all mankind, and there are 2 outcomes, heaven and hell. Not everyone will go to heaven, there is a real hell, and many will go there Ė not because thatís what God wants, but because these people just donít have time for God or to receive his free salvation. And the Bible tries to tell us about hell, using pictures, such as a pit, which you canít get out of, perhaps like the pits at our hog confinements, no one wants to spend forever in the pit, unable to get out. Sometime the bible talks about hell as a lake of burning sulfur, and about a fire which burns forever. There are many ways one could describe hell, perhaps the picture you need to hear, is that its whatever you most dislike going on and on forever with no way out. The point of hell is punishment that goes on forever. The whole point of the language is to tell us Ė this is one place even the heartiest explorer would not choose to go, especially when the other choice is a place which has been especially prepared for us, where everything, even us, will be perfect.
You see, death is not the end. After death comes the resurrection of the dead and judgement. All will be raised from death, but not all will be raised for heaven, some, by rejecting Godís gift of salvation have chosen an eternal life in hell, have chosen to be punished forever and ever. Not very smart, is it? And that is why God made us lights, so that by shining we could show all people where they were going, and also show them the way of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Sometimes people might say to us, turn out that light. Sometimes people might say to us, stop being so good. Sometimes people might even fight against us, and it may be that being a Christian wonít always be popular, at least with the world. But the choice we are all faced with is not between this now, and that now; the choice is between this now, and forever. And to help us choose wisely God lets us now that the world as we know it now is passing away, so that choosing this world new, is to choose to perish. And perish is not just come to an end, but to be punished forever and ever. Therefore, let you lights shine at all times, always pointing to the cross, our hope of salvation, and showing people the way, that they might not perish, but have everlasting life, in Jesus Christ.