Study Guide: Free to Shine

Sunday April 13, 2008 | Dwayne Polk

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Jesus came to set us free so that we can shine with his love. But sometimes darkness in our own heart gets in the way of the life he wants for us. Many times our own thoughts, beliefs and feelings are at the root of why we don’t live as Kingdom people. A key to addressing this darkness is to realize that our perceptions are not what’s real, and instead align our thoughts and feelings with God’s truth.

Extended Summary:

To one reading this passage from the perspective of modern human physiology, the meaning might be missed. We know today how the eye reflects light that enters the eye from the outside of the body. But this is not how they thought the eye worked in the first century. They assumed that a person had an inner source of light within them that went out of the body through the eye and this is how one was able to see reality.

So when Jesus talks about the eye being the lamp of the body, he is referring to the eyes ability to shine light in such a way that people can see properly. But if what is inside the body is dark, the eye will not allow a person to see reality for what it is. Therefore, Jesus instructs that we must “see to it” that what is inside of us is not darkness but light.

One of the things that can hinder our walk with Jesus is a heart that is full of darkness. This inner darkness can cause us to perceive or misperceive reality. It is like having a map that is out of date. The territory that the map is supposed to represent might have new streets or aspects of the terrain that the cartographer failed to include. A map is not the same thing as the territory.

In the same way, our perspective on a situation is not the same thing as reality. Our pain, hurt, unforgiveness, shame, self-hatred, pride—all things that can reside in one’s heart—can skew a person’s ability to see what is going on. And it will hinder one’s ability to freely follow Christ.

Jesus came to give us freedom, not just something that looks like freedom. He comes even now to free us to freely obey and walk out the Kingdom of God. He comes to set us free to shine his love and joy. This light is ours if we can let go of the darkness, allowing Jesus to wash it away and set us free from that which we assumed would remain like a wound that never heals.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How does inner darkness hinder a person’s ability to follow Jesus? How has it hindered you?
  2. Reflect on a time when God has set you free from some form of inner darkness. How did this change your relationships with God?
  3. Why is inner transformation so crucial to our life with God?
  4. When you hear the word “freedom” what does that mean to you?
  5. How is the Spirit of God speaking to you about how you can walk in greater freedom? Spend some time right now listening to the Spirit and write down what you sense.