“There are two ways of spreading light;
to be the candle or the mirror
that reflects it.”
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Our church is the only church in our town that stands on a natural hill. For the last several months we have been claiming this verse. That we are a light to the community that cannot be hidden. It is easy to say the words. Much more difficult, however, is putting action to those words.
How exactly are we a light to the community?
Obviously we are open for worship and prayer. The preaching is honest, Biblical and God inspired. Anyone that comes in from the community will encounter the light. But that is in the church building.
We have made intentional efforts this year for the church building to be open at least some part of every day of the week. We want the community to see it as a community that is alive and well. Youth activities have been added and expanded to encourage the kids in and off the street, and in turn here the Gospel. One community officer recently told our youth pastor that on the night of our youth evening there was very little trouble in the town from kids because our church and another church were providing a place for kids to hang out. Light in the community.
Once a month we hold a service where the offering is not monetary, but is food and staples. This is then taken to a community center to be distributed in Jesus' name. A little more light is shed.
Direct shedding of light is important. It is important for people to see that God is working in a group of people. As opportunities arise, it is important that we tell those people the good news.
But as this quote implies, we are not always able to directly shine a light. We may not be able to tell of the love of Jesus for any number of constraints. Sometimes we are just reflecting it. But being a reflection is no less important. The definition of a reflection is "an image, representation or counterpart." When we are reflecting the light, we are being an image or representation of Jesus who is the Light! We are putting flesh onto the idea of Jesus for those around us to see. We are showing that He is mercy, good, truth, integrity, forgiving and redeeming. And in that image in us hopefully they will want to see more of Him!
German works in the business world. He is often the lone Christian in an office, especially now that we live in Europe. He is not in a position where he can be a direct light quoting scripture or openly praying about issues in people's lives. He is often not able to directly discuss God with a colleague. But he can reflect it! He can operate with an integrity that is often foreign to negotiations. He can keep his cool when all around him is battling. And when someone says (which has happened often) "how do you deal with this foolishness without losing it?" (or a more colorful paraphrase of that), he can answer, "because God gives me grace to handle it." His reflecting the light often leads to a little more sharing. On a few occassions we've rejoiced as someone to whom he has sought to reflect light has contacted us and said, "just wanted you to know, I've become a Christian." Reflection brings the light! We know it because that is exactly how German came to know Christ, through the "differentness" of his peers which led him to ask "why?"
Back to ways our church is light in the community. Even a church congregation is sometimes reflecting instead of shining. One way is availability, love and tolerance until the heart is soft enough to accept a direct message. We offer our building for groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and Parenting Classes. No direct preaching at them, just a place where they are welcome to meet and we even provide the tea and biscuits! Shedding a little light. Maybe that little reflection of God's love will entice them to get to know us better. Maybe they will seek answers in another church. Maybe it won't do anything more than plant a seed of love, but we are faithful to loving the community no matter the response.
Are you a candle shining in the darkness? Are you a mirror reflecting His love? Be faithful to the kind of light He is calling you to be. He will do the rest!
Father, help me to shine and reflect your light in my home, in my church, in my community, in my blog, and ultimately in your world. Amen.
Bonnie is our hostess this week. Please join us at Ink It Blog.