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. -- Matthew 5:15
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Bearing a Torch
Why do we turn on the lights? Do we light a candle because the candle can’t be self-actualized unless it burns? A lamp does not burn for itself, but for the one who lights it. As the Gospel of John opens with its description of Jesus, the Apostle says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4).” The light in us is the light of Christ. God wants to light the world. We are it.
I am sure some people really are called to stand on a street corner with a bullhorn, hold up “John 3:16” banners at football games, hand out tracts in the mall, and knock on doors. I’m not. I have an acquaintance, a lady who does face-painting. She goes down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, sets up on the street, and paints people’s faces. When someone asks her how much she charges, she replies, “I just want a chance to tell you that Jesus loves you, and, since I’ve done that, the painting is free.” In a way, I kind of like that.
Nevertheless, I hate to be “guilted” into anything. It’s too close to gelded. Thus that “do unto others” thing precludes me from using guilt to get my way. I figure most people feel bad enough at least part of the time or in flashes about their lives. I don’t have the heart to add to it.
My plan comes in part from George MacDonald who said in one of his sermons that “to let our light shine is to be just, honourable, true, courteous, more careful over the claim of our neighbour than our own, as knowing ourselves in danger of overlooking it, and not bound to insist on every claim of our own.” Live right. Treat other people well. Try not to express my irritability.
I suspect most of us get plenty of opportunities to “witness” for Christ. People pay more attention than we are apt to think. We aren’t invisible. We aren’t on mute. The Lord knows I’m not. As my wife says, my voice “carries”, especially when I get agitated.
We have to remember, too, that it is not our light. When we read about Gideon, back in Judges 7, we learn that he had his three hundred men put torches into clay jars. They surrounded the camp of the Midianites, and, all at once, broke the jars so that the torches suddenly blazed out. Paul says that … we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us … so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Corinthians 4:7-11).
The light I am supposed to give is not a function of my ability, my own brilliance, or my intellect. Sometimes it is in my brokenness that the light shines brightest.