Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

A Mirror. . . Or a LIGHT!

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 07 October 2008

“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
~Edith Wharton

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."
Matthew 5:14-16

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


Barbara said...

You always bring such a simple idea that most of us don't think about into a WOW moment of "I never looked at it that way"
THANK YOU for your depth and committment. You are a blessing to all who read!
Happy Tuesday, Friend!

Lynnette Kraft said...

My husband helped me to understand the mirror as - our works/lives/service being a reflection of WHO we serve. Where only Jesus is seen in the reflection, not us. I liked that. I do agree with you though... we are called to be light. The mirror to me was more of a picture of reflecting Christ as we serve him. You know, faith 'with' works.

It's funny to me how many different ways we ladies can see things! I enjoy your humor - "As Christians, we are not called to be mirrors!" That's a funny visual - well, you're right, but you have to admit the reflection part of the mirror is a beautiful one. :)

Thanks so much for sharing!

Patricia Warren said...

"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. . ."

Great thoughts! Our church went through a painful split 4 years ago, I think primarily because everyone was more interested in the doing good deeds than being the light on a hill.

We're growing again...yet more so now, I can see that there is a sad lack of seeking the Light so we can be light. Just take Sunday school...probably not even 10% of the people who attend even try to complete the lessons.

We have a writers' group that writes the lessons and I can tell you, it is so discouraging to work hard and have few even crack open their Bibles, let alone do the study.

Where has the fervor for God's word disappeared to? Who is supplying all the bushels?? Too many smoldering candles, not enough raging flames.

That was my rant...your post is excellent as usual. You are always a blessing. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Echoing what Barbara wrote - she said it better than I could!

Ava Semerau said...

How insightful and true - doing good deeds isn't the end, it's the means - and we do them, not for our glory but for God's. It's a reminder we all need from time to time - hehe and you said it so well and with such humor - thanks!
AVA <><

john burreson said...

I agree with you. In studying the original language and context of the passage in Matt. 5, the idea of a mirror is a bit off. The quote from Edith Wharton confuses me.

There is mention of mirrors in the Book of James, but the Greek word here is katanoeō and means to "take note of" or "to observe fully" and is used to describe a person trying to discover something about himself -- NOT mirroring or reflecting Christ.

One thing has nothing to do with the other and I agree with your take here.

We are commanded to be a light in a dark world. Not a mirror.

God Bless you.

Denise said...

Bless you for sharing such a lovely post.

Bonnie W said...

It seems to be a common malady of pastors' wives - to think we have to be perfect to help others LOL!Over the years in ministry, I definitely have fallen backwards on my butt a time or two and discovered how human I really am.

But really it is such a relief to be able to be real and to actually be a light with His life shining through me rather than a weak reflection of that light.

Thanks for your wise words today.

Betsy Markman said...

Shine on, girl!

Laurie Ann said...

I love that you said we are not called to be mirrors. We aren't. While we do reflect the Son, we are to let Him glow through us, not "off of us". I enjoyed your post and you gave me much food for thought.

MiPa said...

Great thoughts. Lots of food for thought. I, too, have gone through times [um, still often go through times] that I think MY good deeds are reflecting Him. But really, they are just MY deeds. What shines (or reflects/represents) Jesus is when I stop doing my thing and allow His work in me. Then people see Him, not my deeds. Bless you for sharing this week!

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