Who is shining in the world today? The media is full of stories regarding the stars who govern the world. Every day a new star is introduced to us. MNCs are the new rulers of the world; the big companies swallow the smaller ones. Political stalwarts and business managers will be at the center of the Globe; all the channels and print media will go after them. The same thing happens in the case of film and sports stars. But unfortunately their reign lasts only for a short span of time. Today’s king will be insignificant tomorrow if a new billionaire appears. Even the Olympic gold medalists enjoy their life only till their records are broken. Now a day these things happen in the field of spirituality too. Inter-continental Evangelists and Charismatic preachers capture the audience within no time; they wither away with the same speed after a while. So let us ask: What does it mean to shine in this world? Let us read a small verse from the Book of Isaiah:
“Arise, Jerusalem and shine like the sun;
The glory of the Lord is shining on you…
Nations will be drawn to your light.”
The Prophecy of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is one of the most important books of the Old Testament. Scholars are of the opinion that this book got its present form from the work of three prophets who lived in three historical periods. The first part of the book is Isaiah 1-39 written by Isaiah, who lived in eighth century BCE. His ministry was in and around Jerusalem. Chapters 40 to 55 were written by a prophet who lived 150 years after during Babylonian exile; for our study let us call him Deutero-Isaih. These chapters have a close affinity to the message of Gospels of the New Testament. Is 56-66 was written by somebody who is called Trito-Isaiah in the academic field.
Isaiah’s prophecy is quoted many a time in the Gospels and other books of the New Testament. Every step in the life of Jesus is interpreted by the Gospel writers as the fulfillment of the Old Testament; they quote the Book of Isaiah to prove this fact. When Jesus was to be named the prophecy about the Immanuel in Is 7,14 is brought to our attention by St. Matthew; the meaning of the word Immanuel -“God is with us”- becomes meaningful when the Son of God came down to this earth and took the form of a human being.
The Glory of God is shining on you
Isaiah’s prophecy was always aimed at the nation of Israel, the People of God. It was the capital of the world when King David and Solomon ruled Israel. But it was captured by the neighboring powers once the kings of Israel forgot their vocation. The nadir of the history of Israel was the Babylonian exile. God intervenes and asks Israel to restore its lost glory. She can arise and shine, because the glory of God resides in her.
The prophetic words given to Israel are relevant for the children of God too. The basic reason for their “shining” is the God element within them. In the Book of Genesis we read that we are created in the Image of God (Gen 1,27). If God was “pleased” after every day’s creation of stars, planets and things like that, He was “very pleased” after the creation of human being as man and woman. The reason for this was the sharing of His glory. The Psalmist says: “You made them inferior only to yourself; you crowned them with glory and honor. You appointed them rulers over everything you made; you placed them over all creation.” (Ps 8,5-6). However, man was so selfish that he sinned and driven out of the Paradise, where he shared the Glory of God. If He was “very pleased” at creating human beings in His own image, He became “sorry that He had ever made them and put them on earth” (Gen 6,5) when He saw their wickedness on earth.
The fall of human being from his eternal glory made him doing all kinds of evil; he became alienated from God. This separation between God and His Image comes to an end with the incarnation of God’s only son. He was the first born son and God created everything through him (Col. 1,15-16). “Through the son God decided to bring the whole universe back to himself” (Col.1,20). That means human beings restore their lost glory through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Therefore those who want to be in the “Glory of God” have to be in Jesus Christ. Following are some steps to be taken for establishing the life in Christ, which would make us shining.
Repentance is necessary for Shining
If we read the chapters just before our theme verse we can see why God asks Israel to arise and shine. In chapter 59 we read how the prophet condemns the sins of the People of God and how they repent. Israel reminds herself her sins; the people realize that the reason for God’s abandonment is their evil life. Then she repents and says; “We have rebelled against you, rejected and refused to follow you. We have oppressed others and turned away from you; our thoughts are false; our words are lies. Justice is driven away, and right can not come near. Truth stumbles in Public Square, and honesty finds no place there. There is so little honesty that those who stop doing evil find themselves the victims of crime” (Is 59,13-15).
Those who believe in God have to repent and keep themselves away from sins. There are two types of sins: Firstly, our Personal Sins and secondly, the Corporate Sins, which we share with our fellow human beings. For example, disobedience to God is a personal sin and if the ruler of a country disobeys God’s will it can lead us to a corporate sin like what happened in the Nazi Germany. Since we are living in a democratic set up, we become partakers of the decisions of our country. So we have to be responsible citizens and we have to exercise our rights as citizens carefully. We should repent not only about our personal sins but also about our corporate sins.
Regular Communion with God is necessary for Shining
We have to be “in Christ” always. Those who keep themselves away from God can not maintain their divine glory. The only way to be in continuous relationship with God is the prayer and meditation. Reading of the Bible will help us know the Will of God. Prayer is not simply asking for our personal needs. The Lord’s Prayer is a sample prayer, which Jesus taught his disciples. It includes both the praise of God the presentation of the petitions. Unfortunately many people understand prayer as submitting a list of our needs before God. What we want is the communion with God and that equips us receiving all kinds of blessings. Jesus asked his disciples to seek first the Kingdom of God and he assured them that it will make them eligible for receiving everything else (Matt 6,33).
A life based on virtues and ethics is necessary for Shining
If we examine the Bible carefully, we can see that those who shined in their life were having an ethical and virtuous life. Today most of the people are not concerned about the basic ethics. There is no ethics in politics; business is devoid of God’s justice; even education is simply the process of acquiring information. Everybody wants to shine and rule over others. The books of the prophets tell us how angry was God on the unjust ways of Israel and how He punished Israel on such occasions. So we should be careful about our activities; they should be justified before God.
Sacrifice is needed for Shining
Many people shined on this earth by sacrificing their life. Those who are selfish and those who live for themselves can not shine for a long. Moses shined because he lived for his country and Joseph became a star by going through a series of difficulties in his life. Self less life make us shine before others.
Transparency and Accountability are necessary for Shining
Those who cover their doings can not shine for a long time. Our life should be transparent and we should not be the children of darkness. Jesus said that we are the light of the world. Light can not be put under a bowl; it should be put in open space. There are some people who do evil things and want to shine in this world by crooked ways and by their wickedness. It can not last for ever
Let us follow the above steps and shine in this world. It will help us to be “in Christ” and regain the Glory of God. I repeat the words of Prophet Isaiah “Arise and Shine”.