To Witness like John

Let His light shine through you.

He was a burning light, but he did not burn with his own light. He was the morning star, but he did not receive his light from himself. The grace of Him, before Whom he came, burned and shone through him. He was not the Light, but a participant in the Light. What gleamed in and through him was not his.

  - Eriugena, Homily on John 1.1-14, Irish, 9th century[1]

For you were once darkness, but now
you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.

  - Ephesians 5.8-10

Paul says we are “light in the world” and therefore should conduct our lives “as children of the light.” This means that our lives should radiate that “goodness, righteousness, and truth” which are “acceptable to the Lord” because they are expressions of His very Being.

This is what John the Baptist did, and what all are called to do who follow Jesus.

Jesus described John as a burning light, but, as Eriugena explained, it was not his own light shining in him. Rather, it was the Light of Christ and God, the glory and beauty of goodness, righteousness, and truth which John lived and proclaimed. John refracted the Light of Jesus through himself, though he lived a rude and simple existence in the wilderness. His manner of life and the forthrightness of his words emanated as Light from beyond himself, even from beyond this world.

So much did John participate in the Light of Christ that His Light shone through him with an irresistible brilliance. People were drawn to that Light, and they submitted to John’s instructions and longed to know his promises.

At the same time, they who inhabited the darkness – the religious leaders of John’s day, as well as Herod – despised the Light in John, and sought only to dampen and extinguish it.

This is the essence of being a witness for Christ. So immersed in Him do we become, so careful in our obedience, joyful in His Presence, and filled with His Spirit and power, that He simply shows Himself through us in all we think, say, and do. The Spirit brings us into the glorious Light of Christ in His Word, and there transforms us increasingly into that same glorious image (2 Cor. 3.12-18).

From that glorious Light, we go forth to walk in the Light, and the Light refracts Himself through us to others. We remain ourselves, with all our peculiar traits, features, and personality, but these are all illuminated and transformed by the Light of Christ, shining through us.

Consequently, some are drawn to the Light of Christ in us, while others will only despise us.

To be a witness like this, refracting the Light of the world as John did, we must come often to the Light, submitting to His Word and will, embracing His purpose and mission, and discerning His every next step for our lives.

Effective witness-bearing begins in our quiet times of meditation and prayer with the Lord. If we do not draw near to His glory and bask in it, we will not be transformed to walk in that glory, so that the Light of Christ is refracted through us. Learning a “presentation” of the Gospel, how to give our personal testimony, or even how to answer objections to the Gospel, are no substitutes for living in the Light as children of it. These efforts will be shallow and lifeless, unless they are illuminated and borne along by the Light of Jesus Christ, shining out from the very depths of our souls.

We are children of Light; let us begin each day in His glorious Presence in the Word and prayer. There we may discern His next glorious steps for our daily lives, so that, walking in the Light, we may radiate and proclaim Him to our dark and fearful age.

Psalm 43.3, 4 (Hyfrydol: Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners!)
Let Your light and truth precede me, bring me to Your holy hill.
Let Your holy altar lead me, let me dwell within Your will.
Lord, my joy and consolation, You, Who grace to me impart,
hear my joyful adoration; I will praise You from the heart.

Lord, You have promised that if we seek You we will find You. I’m seeking, Lord. Light my way, and help me to…

Resources for Your Mission Field

Each week we offer a new “next step” for working your Personal Mission Field. Our Personal Mission Field Workshop gives you the opportunity to read or listen, and to take up one new practice a day as you launch into your calling. Check out this week’s Personal Mission Field Workshop by clicking here.

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T. M. Moore
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Bamford, pp. 98, 99.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore