The Theology of 'Shine Jesus Shine'

I like singing Shine Jesus Shine. There, I said it.

Posted on July 22, 2015

In addition to having a refreshingly trinitarian chorus, it also compresses a lot of theological reflections on the theme of light into 3 small verses. Not with a lot of precision, it must be said, more of a shower-spray of Bible references. But add to it that classy retro-pop-eighties-kitsch thing and you got yourself a good song!

Light was the first specifically referenced thing that God created [Genesis 1:3]. In this creation account God separated the Light from the Dark; essentially creating day and night. It's a funny way to put it though, separating one from the other instead of creating both already separate. But what it allows us to say is that God created light, but not dark. Darkness was already there before creation. Almost like it is the absence of creation, anti-creation. So you can see how it developed it's binary relationship with light: of one being bad and the other good. Dark is ignorance and light is knowledge [2 Corinthians 4:6] Dark is captivity and light is freedom [Isaiah 9:2]. We must be careful about going so far as saying dark is the absence of God because thats not true [Psalm 23:4] but we can say that light represents the positive presence of God in a way that darkness cant; it is the enlightening, liberating presence of God.

The gospel writer John was crazy about light. About the gospel message being light and about Jesus himself being light. Chapters 1, 3, 8, 9 and 12 all have something to say on the matter.

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 8:12

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

John 3:20-21

Notice that the same God that separated light and dark in the beginning, is continuing to enforce the process. Jesus is light -with him their is no dark. Evil is dark, it is repelled by the light.

And in the conclusion of all things we have the final triumph of Light. The apostle John's 'Revelation' speaks of a city which does not even need the sun because the light of God's presence is always there. [Rev 21:23] and it also speaks of the judgement of the final Babylon as a place where not even a lamp will be shining - total darkness [Rev 18:23].

The triumph of Light over dark is a certainty. It started at creation, it is embodied in Jesus and it will find its completion in the new creation. When we sing about wanting to see this land filled with the light of God's glory, or wanting all the darkness in our lives to be consumed by the presence of Jesus; we are saying amen to one of the great overarching missions of God: to separate light from dark and make all things 'good'.

Lord, the light of your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth you now bring us
Shine on me, shine on me

Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father's glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light

Lord, I come to your awesome presence
From the shadows into your radiance
By the blood I may enter your brightness
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness
Shine on me, shine on me

As we gaze on your kingly brightness
So our faces display your likeness
Ever changing from glory to glory
Mirrored here may our lives tell your story
Shine on me, shine on me

Graham Kendrick