“Let’s put some light on the subject.” That is a common phrase people use when there is a lack of clarity on what to do in a small thing or how make a big decision.
But sometimes getting clarity on what is common sense becomes a matter of “be careful for what you wish for, you might get it.” Once someone know what their encounter with truth is and its consequences then they may have to make a change in their life course that stretches them beyond their comfort zones. Working in a substance abuse treatment center I see often where clients have their toxic drug habits and their toxic relationships for what they are. From there they see their faith in their abilities or their desire to change wanting and take the stress out on those who call them on their %$# (insert vernacular here). Lucky me!
When Jesus came not the scene there we see the natural reaction of hard hearted people with light. “And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Just as the world was “formless and void” (Genesis 1:2) before light was made, so were the consciences of enemies of God’s love in need of formation and filling.
As tempting as it is to dust off our hands and say that how God touches the world is a mystery and between Him and the individual. It is tempting because it could appeal to someone who calls themselves “religious” and a “Christ-follower” to finding an individual spirituality without passing it on. But Jesus called, and still calls, His disciples to touch and be touched by the message of the kingdom as a community experience of in- reach to a fruitful outreach. Thus He lays down the gauntlet here.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:15-16)
To be a navel gazing Christian as I described above is like hiding in that bushel. And the navel gazing that keeps us from letting faith working itself out through love can have so many excuses. Too busy. Too stressed. The people one would interact with are too different.
But light is invasive. There is no flick of a switch that makes darkness turn out the light. But if one has established themselves to be salt of the earth (see last post), then the next turning point is to “preach the gospel at all times, if needed, use words” (St. Francis). To lean forward towards those who do not know Jesus is to be one who shows clarity by the clarity of the gospel that is being applied to your own life first. An example of this light being done right is in how the personal sin you hate the most is ones own. You pass on what you have.
So for the believer or the unbelieving reader going over these words I want to say emphatically that people of Westboro Baptist Church who scream homophobic epithets are by no means a light of Christianity. By some of the working definition I outlined above they are clanging symbols who have not love.
But examples who live out such good deeds are too numerous for me to write here. I could speak of close friends who were still my friends when I was unworthy of their friendship. There are some heroes like Mother Theresa, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Andre Bissett, St. Pope John Paul II…and possibly you. What is stopping us?