Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In Other Words--Let Your Light Shine


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


"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."
Mark 5:14-16

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.


Lynnette Kraft said...

Yes, I suppose taking our individual lights and putting them together - as a church reaching out - is another aspect of shining our light. Taking it more to a corporate shining - which of course can be a pretty powerful light! :)

Thanks for sharing.

Kristin said...

I do try to be a light shining God's love on and to others. I know I'm not perfect at it, but I do try.

Patricia Warren said...

I love it! "Be faithful to the kind of light He is calling you to be. He will do the rest!"

We can't shine or reflect any more than He equips us to do. And we can't know how He is calling unless we spend time absorbing His light.

Thanks for sharing your great perspective.

Typing One-Handed

Bonnie W said...

I love the way your church sits on a hill, shining like a light for all those around. And though it is hard to be a part of a secular workplace, no matter how many restrictions they put on what we can say as Christians, they cannot diminish His light when it shines forth froum our lives. I will pray for your husband's light as it shines in the darkness!

Wonderful take ont eh quote, MiPA!

writingcanvas said...

Thanks so much for sharing and about your church. What a great verse to claim and proclaim as well!

Karen said...

How neat to have that opportunity with your church, to claim that verse. We all need to shine for Jesus, on the side of a hill, on top or at the bottom. Wherever we find ourselves! Praise the Lord.

Esthermay Bentley-Goossen said...

What an awesome testimony of a real-life light on the hill.

I do appreciate that you explain about the "contraints." It's a sad reality. God must weep!

But praise God, we still SHINE!

Great Post!
Thank you.

Kat said...

I love the image of your church on a hill with lots of light, both in it's lamps and with the Light of Christ. The light of the church leads those who need Him there and the Light of Christ can keep them in the church! Beautiful post!

Tami Boesiger said...

I agree with you, MiPa, that availability speaks volumes. It is huge in this fast-paced world and often sets us apart simply because it is not the norm.

Ava Semerau said...

As fellow expats, we, too, have run into those same constraints that keep us from being the bright candle we'd like to be. Thanks for reminding me that reflecting our Christian principles into the darkness is also to God's glory.

Denise said...

Great post, I loved it.

Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years said...

This is such an encouraging post, Mipa! I'm going to share it with my husband who, like German, is sometimes the only Christian in his workplace. (Even though this is Texas!)