This past week a brother was baptized in our church. The baptism celebration got me thinking about what I wished I knew about the Christian life when I was baptized that I only learned later. There are lots of things, but one verse in particular came to mind, as it is from the passage we've been memorizing as a church.
In Colossians 1, in verse 12, Paul speaks about our inheritance as children of God:
...giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. (Colossians 1:12 NASB)
What I see here is that part of the inheritance we should expect to receive from our Father is Light! When we accept Christ as Lord of our lives and are born again, it is our birthright in this new life that we will receive light. That means that we should expect God's light to shine into our lives and minds, which have previously been darkened by the sin of this world and our flesh, every single day.
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know over what they stumble.
(Proverbs 4:18-19 NASB)
As children of God, every day the path of our lives should get brighter and brighter. It's not God's desire that there are "good days and bad days," that we "win some and we lose some," so to speak, but that every day there is a progression into holiness, and our path becomes clearer as the light shines brighter.
The proverb contrasts this experience of the righteous with the wicked, who "do not know over what they stumble." Part of this light as I understand it is that we receive increasing understanding of what causes us to stumble, so that we might be wise in our conduct and be quick to ask for grace to overcome in those areas.
This is something that I didn't really appreciate until much later in my Christian life. For many years I would be seemingly blindsided by sin, having no idea what had caused me to fall. That is not God's desire, though. He wants us to be able to say, as Paul did, that "we are not ignorant of (Satan's) schemes." (2 Corinthians 2:11) As I have grown in the knowledge of Satan's schemes myself, I have also grown in how proactive I am towards sin. For example, if I know that a certain coworker tests my patience, I now seek to pray to God for help before I ever even enter the meeting! Jesus Himself taught us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation," (Matthew 6:13) and we can imitate Him practically and with specificity as the path of our lives get brighter and brighter. In this and many other ways, expecting to receive light as part of my inheritance as God's child has changed my Christian life forever.
That leaves the question: How does the shining of God's light onto our paths happen? What do we need to do to secure this glorious inheritance?
One thing I have learned is that it requires that every single day we look to Jesus. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says that as we look at Him, we are being transformed into His same image by the Holy Spirit.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB)
It goes on to say in 4:6 that "God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." So we must look unto Jesus every single day to accomplish this daily "brighter and brighter transformation." God has chosen to radiate the Light of His glory in the face of Christ, and it is as we look to Him that our own paths will be illuminated.
Thankfully, our Lord Jesus is our example in even this. He told us that the secret to His holy life was only doing what He saw the Father doing:
Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. ...
(John 5:19 NASB)
So Jesus's own life flowed from looking at God and seeing what He was doing. He goes on to say, "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel." (John 5:20 NASB)
Jesus taught that one way God demonstrates His love is by revealing His ways to us. This is a wonderful picture of "the inheritance of the saints in Light." God's love is demonstrated in that He begins to show us what He is doing, what He thinks about things, and so we ought to long to experience God's love in this way. As important as it is to know God loves us and find our security there, we should expect for the outpouring of His love to go far beyond an emotional experience. It is natural for us to think of God's love as an emotional thing early in our Christian lives -- but our inheritance in Light means that we get to press further into His chamber, to where His love discloses His ways to us. We ought to be growing in our understanding of the way that Jesus lived on earth, the things which He loved and the things which He hated, His priorities, that we might be transformed into His image. This is the inheritance of the saints in Light! Moses prayed:
Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight..."
(Exodus 33:13 NASB)
And that should be our prayer, too. Because of what Jesus did for us -- coming to earth as a man, living a perfect sinless life, humbling Himself to the point of death on a cross, and being raised by the power of the Holy Spirit -- we can boldly ask our Father in Heaven to show us His ways, so that we too might be pleasing in His sight, just as Jesus was.
This is the outpouring of God's love that we must seek after baptism. We must seek to receive His love so as to see what God Himself is doing, that we might do in like manner, just as Jesus did. This is why our path can get brighter and brighter every day after we are baptized.