“And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” – Isaiah 58:10 (NIV)
It happened so fast that I almost missed it. At first, it was an instantaneous flicker but as my eyes strained to see it, the glow appeared again and lingered a little longer. It was my first firefly sighting of the summer!
There’s something intriguing to me about fireflies so I did a bit of research. What I learned is that fireflies are cold-blooded insects. They depend on heat from their environment to live.
Fireflies are also bioluminescent. This means they produce a chemical reaction inside their bodies which enables them to glow. Light production occurs in a firefly when oxygen unites with calcium, adenosine triphosphate, luciferin, and the enzyme luciferase. But there’s another key ingredient responsible for this chemical reaction—nitric oxide. Without the presence of nitric oxide, oxygen stays contained in the mitochondria and is prohibited from interacting with the other chemicals. In essence, nitric oxide is the switch that turns the light of a firefly on and off.
Even more interesting was an article I came across about synchronous fireflies. Yes! This species displays their flashes harmoniously. In the Western Hemisphere, the biggest population of synchronous fireflies can be found in the Great Smoky Mountains.
People travel by the busloads and willingly trek through a dense, dark forest to see the summertime light show of the synchronous fireflies. One spectator commented that what impressed her the most was how their light shining together was enough to illuminate an entire forest!
After learning about fireflies, there are two lessons I hope I never forget:
The light given off from a firefly can only be seen in the heat of the night.
Just like a firefly can only thrive in the heat of summer and its light is only visible in the darkness, so it is with those who follow Christ.
For many, the evilness of our broken world is like an inferno intensifying in heat. Yet it is the heat that enables us to shine. We must remember that the “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts…” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
What a promise! God’s light shines through His people. And the darker it gets, the brighter we’ll shine if we look to Him—our source of light (Psalm 34:5). God is our nitric oxide, that key ingredient needed to produce light within us. And the best part is, His supply is readily available and never runs out.
Acting together, synchronous fireflies are capable of lighting up an entire night sky.
Although the light from a single firefly is impressive, it doesn’t compare to the stunning display of light produced by an army of fireflies glowing in unison.
Are there Christians in our world today radiating the Gospel? You bet! But by and large, it’s difficult to detect the light of God’s people when we operate independently of each other.
In the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul urges the Church to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received…[Making] every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). Then in the book of Philippians, Paul again advises the Church to “conduct [themselves] in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…striving together as one for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
I fear that as our world grows darker, the light of the Church is not as bright as it could be. Why is that? Are we living in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ? Are we striving together as one?
I understand we all have differences. We come from different backgrounds and upbringings. We have different convictions, doctrines, and opinions. But until we clothe ourselves in humility and realize that these differences are a tool Satan so masterfully uses to distract us from our mission, we will continue to emit only a trace of light.
The world shouldn’t need to strain to see the Church. Rather, the Church should dispel the darkness like the display of the synchronous fireflies of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Let’s ask our gracious Lord to give us strength to shake off the stubbornness that hinders us from yielding to our brothers and sisters in Christ (James 3:17, NLT) and courage to live in a manner worthy of the gospel. For when we strive together in complete unity, then will our radiance become an unstoppable force that dissipates the darkness and leaves an impression for the glory of God’s Kingdom!