the weblog of Alan Knox

An inspirational light display

Posted by on Dec 9, 2011 in discipleship, love, missional, service | 5 comments

God cares about light displays. But, I’ll get back to that in another 200 words.

Last weekend, our friend Jared helped us string white icicle lights along our roof line. Many of our neighbors have decorated their houses, porches, trees, and yard ornaments with lights: white or multi-colored; twinkling, blinking, or steady.

Of course, there’s nothing in our neighborhood to compare to Mr. Grizwald’s light display. There are a few families in our town or the towns around us who seem to be attempting to give Clark a run for his money. And, then, there was the TV show about the houses around the country that have been decorated with hundreds of thounsands – even one million – lights.

So, are you thinking about a light display this Christmas? You should. Seriously.

Why? Because God enjoys a good light display. Jesus talked about this in the Sermon on the Mount:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others… (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

Apparently, according to Jesus, God enjoys light displays that light up an entire hillside… and entire city. He wants a light display that cannot be hidden. Of course, this passage is not only about Christmas light displays, but certainly Christmas lights fall into this category.

I’m thinking that the early church’s emphasis on light displays (especially at Christmas-time) was one of the reasons (perhaps the main reason) that Paul told followers of Jesus let their lights shine in the world. Their light displays were so spectacular that their pagan neighbors could not help but notice.

So, we can see that light displays – including Christmas light displays – were important to Jesus, and they were important to Paul and the early church. If light displays were that important, then certainly they should be important to us as well. We’re not told whether we should choose white or multi-colored lights, or whether the lights should blink, twinkle, or remain on steadily. Perhaps that doesn’t matter as long as there is an awesome and inspirational light display.

Hold on one second… Are you sure? You really don’t think Matthew 5 is about Christmas lights? You think I should read further? Let me see…

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

Ah. I see. But, what about Paul telling Christians to shine their lights? That’s about light displays, including Christmas lights, right? No? We’ll see about that…

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:14-16 ESV)

hmm…. hmph.

Well, readers, I apologize. Apparently, someone – who shall remain nameless, but his initials are HS – wants to ruin a perfectly good inspirational Christmas message by demanding that I consider what Jesus and Paul were actually saying. Someone thinks these passages are about living our lives in a way that demonstrates our trust in God and that they have nothing to do with Christmas lights.

But, I’ll leave that up to you – my loyal readers – to decide for yourselves. If you think Jesus and Paul are talking about Christmas light displays, then I hope your house is the brightest on the block.

But, if you think they’re talking about living your life in a way that others notice and in a way that points others toward God through Jesus Christ, well, I guess that’s fine, too.

Just don’t expect to win the best decorations or tackiest lights awards this year!


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 12-9-2011

    Scrooges everywhere. Along with good old Mr. Nicholas I say, “Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!”

  2. 12-9-2011

    Just read an article that this year in the US it is estimated that people will spend 6 BILLION dollars on Christmas decorations. Shining our lights are getting more and more pricey.. something to think about??

    Now that is one ginormous FAT blow up Santa!

  3. 12-9-2011


    Well, you gotta love ’em, since we can’t kill ’em anymore.


    How did you know I had an enormous inflatable Santa in my front yard? 😉


  4. 12-9-2011

    He must really love us Catholics. :^D

  5. 12-9-2011


    Of course he does!