Before I became a pastor’s wife, I was a perfect Christian and “light before all men.”
(You may chuckle now.)
Seriously though, I thought I had risen to the challenge to be a holy presence in the world. We’re all perfect at something…until tapping into human experience makes us . . .well, human! Becoming a pastor’s wife made me human!
A decade ago, I was committed to letting my light shine everywhere I went. I was captivated by Jesus’ imperative in the Sermon on the Mount: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds. . . ” (Matthew 5:16) The powerful truth in that child’s song, “This Little Light of Mine,” was something I desperately wanted to live.
I had made a commitment to be a reflection of God in my own life. I wanted so badly for people to "see my good deeds,” and be drawn to Jesus as a result of it.
Fast Forward: 2005. My husband is in full-time ministry, I’m the pastor’s wife and I’m knocked flat on my butt in the realization that most of the people in the church (let alone the world) really don’t care about being drawn to and finding hope through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, but by every other possible way to meet their needs except for salvation! And – in my situation – the “good deeds” were only a point of contention. I was doing better in my secular career at bringing people to Jesus than I was in the setting of a church! What was I doing wrong!?
I became a little sulky and cynical and more than a slightly angry toward the trend of the evangelical church to be less about God’s Word and its message of Salvation and more about meeting people’s “needs” through modernized human intelligence, popular psychology, pseudo-philosophies, psychopharmacology, and (of course) good deeds. (That's just not God's Plan!)
The whole thing caused me pause. Was I really being the light that pointed to Jesus that I had wanted so desperately to be years earlier? Obviously not. God's Word is perfect. It must be me that has the definition of light confused with something else. . . .
Here is that Truth: Simply reflecting (or mirroring) God’s work in my life was doing little to expand the Kingdom. Hoping for others to somehow come to Christ as a result of seeing my “good deeds” wasn’t just the stuff of chuckles -- but fall down laughing hysterics. And my error in thinking is just a small piece of a far greater flaw in the thinking of the Church today.
Scripture does not tell us to mirror God’s Love and His Plan of Salvation. It tells us to be the actual light that points people to Christ:
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house. Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
The mirrored reflection of a lighthouse in the waters of the coastline waters will do nothing to bring a ship into a harbor. It is the actual light that brings the ship into safety.
The moon reflects the light of the sun -- and as beautiful as it is -- it isn’t a very bright light.
The reflection of my favorite scented candle on the small mirror-trivet I place it on is pretty to look at, but it's not the actual flame . . . the reflection of any light does not provide the same illumination or warmth as the actual light.
As Christians, we are not called to be mirrors! We are called to be a LIGHT. . . . brighter and more brilliant and intense than ever in a world that is dying from lack of knowledge and understanding! A world where most Christians are more interested in their "good deeds" than they are being an actual light to bring people to Jesus!
Being a light is not about reflecting or mirroring anything! Being a light means BEING A LIGHT that points people to the Truth of God's Word and the Truth of Salvation. Our good deeds are just that: good deeds. They do little to actually present the Truth.
Yes . . . Even in churches!
The name Christ means “the anointed One,” so each Christian should be a person marked by the truth and love of God -- not and echo or mirror of it -- but an actual light. . .
Yes . . . there are two ways to spread light – you can be a mirror and reflect what might (or might not) bring others to a saving faith in Jesus. Or you can be the actual light that Christ call us to be.
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
~ Romans 1:16
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:4
. . . That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world . . .
~ Philippians 2:15-16
~ Esthermay Bentley-Goossen
Bonnie is this week's Hostess for In Other Words. Visit her at Ink It Blog