Beacons of Hope
Written by Kelley Brown (First 5 Ministries)
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 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. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
For over 2,000 years, the illuminating glow of lighthouses has helped seafarers navigate dangerous waters and rocky coasts. Their beckoning lights have represented hope and safety to ships, particularly during the darkness of night, by guiding them in and out of harbors and signaling a destination reached.
When Jesus entered into the darkness of this fallen earth as a human being, He became “the light of the world” – our source of salvation, hope, guidance and strength (John 8:12). He taught His followers how to navigate the currents of culture and the temptations of our sinful nature. And He commanded believers to be lights as well, shining as a city on a hill for all to see. (Matthew 5:14) Like lighthouses, we are called to be beacons that extend hope and help others steer away from trouble.
This same instruction was given by Paul in the verses we read today. He commanded the Philippians to shine among “a crooked and twisted generation” (Philippians 2:15). These same words were used to describe the Israelites in the wilderness as they whined and complained about their circumstances. The Old Testament scriptures say, “They have dealt corruptly with him; they are no longer his children because they are blemished” (Deuteronomy 32:5). That generation’s failure to trust the Lord led them down a path of disobedience that cost them the blessing of entering the promised land in their lifetime.
Paul seemed to be warning the believers in Philippi to avoid making the same mistakes as those wandering Israelites because he specifically commanded them to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” and to be “children of God without blemish” (Philippians 2:14). A critical spirit may seem harmless compared to other sins, but it has both internal and external consequences.
Whining and arguing lead to bitter, ungrateful hearts which hinder our relationship with the Lord. They also affect our relationships with and our witness to the people around us. Our complaining and bickering discredit our claims that Jesus brought unity and peace. Our discontentment conveys that we don’t trust God, or that He isn’t enough. How can we reflect the love and grace of our Savior when we’re fussing at God and with each other?
As we work out our salvation and aim for holiness, it’s not necessarily perfect behavior that attracts people to Christ. More often, it’s humility, a gracious approach to conflict and a charitable spirit. Just as a lighthouse cannot provide illumination without kerosene or electricity to keep the flame lit, we must hold “fast to the word of life” and rely on the Lord to fuel and sustain our light (Philippians 2:16).
If you’re struggling with the command to be “blameless and innocent,” maybe feeling like it’s an impossible standard, remember that we do nothing to achieve that status; we receive it through faith in Jesus Christ. The blood of Jesus, the spotless and sacrificial Lamb, has healed our blemishes and removed our blame. The Light of the World now lives within us! It’s not our work that qualifies us to shine as lights for Christ, it’s our willingness to stand boldly and let Him shine through us. Regardless of your past mistakes or flaws, you are a vessel worthy of radiating God’s light.