James and I have been talking about light lately, and being examples, and living a life that is a witness and testimony to others. I’ve been thinking a lot about “light” in particular.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, 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 who is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5: 14-16
Have you ever washed your car late in the afternoon, racing to finish before the sun goes down (thinking you did a job well done) only to discover all the places you missed in the light of day?
Light does two things: light allows us to see what is before us, and it illuminates what we’re doing for others to see. As Christians, we are called to *be* light. But what kind of light? A spotlight, bright and garish? A penlight, dim and soft? What about one of those interrogation lamps from one of those cop movies, abrasive and harsh? I suppose it depends on what your purpose is. The right light for the right purpose.
Our light, our purpose, is to illuminate the truth, to reveal Christ to those around us, by our actions and our faith, so that others may see the truth of God’s glory as well.
“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” ~2 Corinthians 4: 1-6
We need to be a light that illuminates the full truth, does not distort it, is not overly harsh but does not shy away from it, does not add to it, and simply reveals what is there for others to see.
Black light is created by filtering out most of the visible light so that only invisible ultraviolet light remains, the purplish hue coming from a small amount of visible light which escapes through the dark blue filtering glass. Blacklights are used to identify counterfeit money, reveal the “messy” truth in “clean” bathroom surfaces, reveal fingerprints and blood residue in crime scenes, identify mechanical leaks and test for various skin conditions.
Interestingly, this invisible light reveals invisible truths, things that cannot be seen with the naked eye in visible light.
We need to be like blacklights to the world.
Applying the filter of Christ to our lives, our job is not to condemn or judge but to simply speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Do not add to it, or take away from it, distort it, misrepresent it, hide it, or overexpose it. In the right light, the truth is simply revealed for all to see.
Speaking the truth in love is hard. Disagreeing without judging is hard. (Conversely, hearing the truth in love and hearing disagreement without feeling judged can be equally difficult.) But as Christians, if we take Jesus’ command to heart, to be the salt and the light, to point others to Christ, to reveal God’s glory–then our goal is not to reveal truth for the sake of judging or convicting or being right.
Our goal as Christians is to light the way in the hopes that we might follow Christ more closely and bring others along with us. It’s that hope that should encourage us to be light, more gently, with truth, and love.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” ~John 3:16-21
I’ve only scratched the surface here; this is barely the tip of the ice berg. What I really hope that we take away from this object lesson is this: We can only do this through Christ. It is Christ in us that allows us to be the kind of light that we need to be to the world, the escaping glow of Christ’s light bringing forth the luminescent truth of God.
If we remove the “visible light,” ourselves, from the equation we can let Christ’s light shine through us for all to see and thus give all the glory to God.