Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…. (Philippians 2:14–16—NKJV)

The role of believers in this world is to bear the light of the glorious Gospel with all the capacity that God has given to us. We ought to do nothing that deflects, draws attention away from, or diminishes the brilliance and the beauty of our blessed Lord that emanates through us.

During the summer season, in the gloaming, as the dusk filters through the trees, it is always a pleasant experience to take a moment and observe the fireflies flitting about between the branches and streaming their lights over the grassy fields. Though they are around during broad daylight, as any red-blooded boy can attest, their presence is noticeable to the rest of us as the sun’s light dims and the evening grows dark. Just as the fireflies’ presence is made noticeable by the shadows, so every believer is to be made noticeable when times grow dark.

Looking at the first verse quoted above, one cannot help but notice that the Philippian believers were not allowing themselves to reflect the glories of Christ since they were allowing their testimony to be swallowed up in the murkiness and fogs of murmuring complaints and the disputes that seem to arise from discontent and personal offense. Such disputes, as the Greek word insinuates, are dripping with doubt and uncertainty. The simplicity, sincerity, and clarity of the Gospel light is going to be dimmed and muddled when it comes from such a source.

Paul’s charge is that the believers change and “become” what God intended when He saved them. They were to become blameless such that they cannot be called to account and censured. They were to become harmless, innocent and guileless. They were to become “born ones” of God as natural offspring of the Father. They were to be without fault, blemish, defect, and pristine for the sake of the Gospel.

Such moral high ground is in sharp distinction to the darkness that prevails among men all around the saint. Paul describes the unregenerated inhabitants of the world as crooked and wicked in that they are turned away from the truth. Such a condition leads to a settled state of perversion, twisted and distorted, a stark contrast to the straight measure of God’s righteousness.

The saints in the midst of the gathering darkness stand out and appear to shine in that darkness as the firefly does as the light of the sun turns dusky. To illustrate in a slightly different way: my brother installed a fireplace surround in his home, made of a particular kind of stone called “galaxy granite.” The jet-black, polished surface has particular, small metallic formations within it that reflect light with a white luminescence. The light reflected appears like a twinkling, starry night sky when any kind of light graces its surface. Believers are to similarly shine forth with the light of the Gospel.

We shine in concert with other believers for a display of God’s power and truth (Ephesians 5:8, 14). We shine as invitations to the light that has transformed us from within (2 Corinthians 4:4) because God is Light (1 John 1:5). We shine as messengers because Jesus is the Light of the World (John 1:9). We shine as warnings of false lights for Satan himself can pretend to be an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). We must shine as lighthouses firmly built on the bedrock of truth (2 Peter 1:19).

As the days grow increasingly confusing, and the skies of trouble close in, it is imperative that saints labor to keep the light burning. Do not hide it under a bushel (Matthew 5:16) but see to it that nothing gets in the way of all the clear testimonies emanating from the brotherhood of the saints in each local church. Trust and obey.