“I am the light of the world”. This quote from John Chapter 8:12 is the opening statement of the late John Paul Jackson’s ‘Declarative Prayer’ some of which is reproduced below. When I first read these words many years ago, I was shocked. I was shocked because I knew, of course, that Jesus had said these words, and I thought John Paul was fine saying them, but I felt totally unqualified to do the same.
I challenge anyone to meditate on those words for a moment or two and not be overwhelmed to some degree. It’s quite a statement; “I am the light of the world”. Unequivocal, uncompromising. “I am the light of the world”. Wow. Really?
I have repeated this declaration of John Paul’s many, many times. For long periods of time I have repeated it every single day. Every time I do so I am engaging in transformation, in being transformed by the reality, the truth and the substance of it because, of course, it’s all Scriptural truth. The key to believing and absorbing those seven (that’s a relevant and interesting number!) words is in the rest of John Paul’s opening statement: “because the Light of the world dwells in me”.
Too often we Christians tend to believe the bits in the Bible we are comfortable with and somehow ignore the more challenging bits. It takes a paradigm shift to believe all of the Bible, at least it does for me. The Patria Statement of Faith states: “We believe that the original manuscripts are the inspired, inerrant, and trustworthy Word of God, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of human beings, and the final authority for all matters about which it speaks. We believe that God still does everything today that He did in Scripture.” It’s one thing to assent to that statement of faith and quite another to live it, to live in it and by it. We can only do that through Holy Spirit and understanding that He who dwells in us is the Living Word and He is the Truth.
2 Corinthians 5:17 reminds us of the startling, shocking truth and reality of what has happened to us once we have been re-conceived by the Spirit of God - born again. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, ALL things have become new” .
What does that mean? In the Amplified version the same verse is rendered; “Therefore if any person is [in-grafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” Taken at face value this is incredible, challenging, almost beyond belief. Can this really mean what it says? Apparently so.
2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us more about being and becoming this new creation; “And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.”
Transfigured, according to my computer’s dictionary means to ‘transform into something more beautiful or elevated’. ‘Being transfigured’ is a stretch for many and it is for me. I don’t feel as though I am being transformed into something more beautiful or elevated because I am tethered to my earthly understanding and values. But there is a higher reality: the Kingdom reality, the reality of the Word. We access that reality of the Kingdom and His Word by faith.
The reality of who we are in the Kingdom is incredible, amazing and yes, exciting! This reality is what Jesus was referring to when He said in John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father”.
But let’s get back to that amazing opening statement; “I am the light of the world”. I am no paragon of Christianity, I’m in process, but I have taken this statement to heart, mind and spirit. I declare it over myself, I believe it, I desire more of its reality daily and I actively pursue it. I try and remember that “I am the light of the world” when I enter a supermarket or my local gas station, “I am the light of the world”. I shine, I project the light of He who dwells in me because I am made in His image and I am becoming like Him as I engage with the reality of Scripture which tells me this is true. I am happy, I chat to the staff and, if appropriate, to the other shoppers, I want to be a blessing during the time I am there. I know each staff member by their first name and usually they are pleased to see me! I want to be good to be around, just like Jesus was and is.
John Paul was apparently often stopped by shoppers or staff because they could see there was something about him. Sometimes they asked him to pray for them. I want that. I want that not because I need to be noticed, but because I want others to see Jesus in me. As yet for me there is rarely a ‘spiritual’ connection as such, but I work at being the light and the water which can cause their seed of faith to explode into growth when they are presented with the Gospel in some way.
How about you? Do you realize you are meant to be the light of the world?
Part of the late John Paul Jackson’s Declarative Prayer (slightly adapted from his original):
“I am the light of the world because the Light of The World dwells in me. I will bear Your Light O God, to change a world in darkness. Your Kingdom will come, Your Will will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, and it will begin in me because I am made in Your image. Everyone who meets me will be changed, because no one can meet You and not be changed. I will become increasingly aware of the Light I carry. I will grow in You and grow in this Light. I will become a change agent in this world as Your Light radiates from me.
I will believe the unbelievable about me and what is ‘not yet’, I will become. I will come to understand who I am in You and I will see my future more clearly than I have ever seen it before. The gifts You have given me will begin to flourish as I understand Your ways. Anything that comes against me will not prosper because I live a repentant life before You, and because I live a repentant life,You will answer my prayers.
I will become what You have called me to become. I have been placed here for such a time as this and I live where I live because You have placed me here. I am not here by accident; I am here by Your Divine Appointment. My neighbors will prosper because You are in me. All those who I come into contact with will prosper because of You in me.”