At the beginning of the book of John, we read about it:
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5
Then again, towards the middle of the book:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
If we are faithful in our service, we do not have to worry about being overcome. We know our God will not let us be tempted beyond our ability (1 Cor. 10:13). We are called to be the light in the dark world that is trying continuously to overcome us. But it has not. And it will not if we find our strength in him, for HE has already overcome the world. Let us put our hope in him, in this assurance.
However, before we can put our hope in something, we must know what it means.
According to the first dictionary I found, to overcome means “to be victorious over.”
To have a victory implies a struggle – and a clear outcome — one force prevailing over the other, subduing the other, even if for a short time.
With this definition, it seems fair to say that our world often seems overcome by evil. Sometimes it even feels as though we, ourselves, have been overcome – whether by apparent evil or simply by stress, assignments, busyness, work, socialization, or even just feelings in general.
For a little more context than previously given, John 1:1-5 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
As Christians, we know this life is not just the seventy or eighty years we have on this earth, but eternal life, and that those who believe in him will have this life. (John 3:16, 5:24) That’s us! As John says, “the life is the light of the world.” Matthew 5:14-16 says, “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, where it gives light to 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.”
Lights shine into a place, and no matter how dark it is, if the light is on, the darkness can not drown it out. Perhaps it only provides a small amount of brightness compared to the size of the darkness, but it is there nonetheless. Lights are not easily hidden. If you have gone through any power outage, you know that the lights that are set higher somehow seem to give off “more” light, though, in reality, it is just more unimpeded space for that light to filter into. Hence, a light on a stand, a city on a hill. We are not called to hide ourselves away, to influence no one, to blend in. We are not called to live quiet lives, but loud ones. Now, I am not talking about bold eyeliner, boomboxes, or neon clothing, though those certainly have their places. Instead, we are to be loud in gentleness, love, respect, humility, peace, and patience. These things may not seem loud, bold, or even brave to us. They may even seem cheesy and cliché. But take another good look at the world. If you see the same world I see, it is full of anger, hatred, misunderstanding, disrespect, pride, folly, quick tempers, and people screaming, ‘I want it NOW!’.
It is well enough to say we must be loud in quiet things; it is the how that is always hard, is it not? How do you let your light shine in your normal, daily life?
Perhaps it is in the little things. Even the small things show our faith and strengthen our flames. Whether it is daily prayer and study or the larger assemblies of worship, we must strengthen our flames, so our lights will stay shining when we go back into the world. Once we are in the world, we must continually show the love of Christ, the peace that surpasses understanding, the joy that fills our souls. Let HIS light shine through you, let your actions speak the truth of the one who saved you, the one who keeps you from being overcome by the darkness around you, the one who is your anchor as you sail through the storms of life will bring you joy, what you are asked is to let it out so others may see, and know.
We are not called to battle the darkness of the world single-handedly but to allow our lights to shine in it. We are called to be a city on a hill. Our day-to-day lives must be filled with the goodness and faithfulness of our Lord, to let that influence filter into the dealings we have with others. Our hope, joy, and love must shine out to those we come in contact with. The battle we face is refreshed every day. Our opponent knows our weaknesses and uses them.
Nevertheless, the battle for our souls is worth the renewed fight, even as it tires us. We have to remember, in the end, our war has been won. He has overcome this world if we will but believe and follow. If we will follow in His example and continue the daily fight for our souls, He has overcome the darkness, but we must choose to follow Him, to walk in the light, to shine our lights in the darkness without being overcome.
By Hannah Lowe: Hannah Lowe is a freshman at Freed-Hardeman University, studying Marketing and English. Her free time is often spent with her dog and a book. She hopes these writings will bless your studies as we strive toward heaven together.