It’s not often that we receive positive confirmation that our light is shining. Several years ago, I was visiting my dad at work. At that time he worked at Caterpillar’s Morton parts facility in the computer department. So not a small place. I happen to be in the building working on a copy machine. Anyway, Dad went to get something, I forget what, and one of his co-workers walks up and asks, “Your dad’s pretty religious isn’t he?” I replied with something along the lines of “Yeah, you could put it that way.” The co-worker said, “Well, he’s a good man” and walked away. Now, Dad isn’t a blaring trumpet when it comes to displaying his faith. It is neither a secret nor the only topic of conversation. You could say that Dad lets his light shine and this co-worker saw it.
Letting our light shine is the next Jesus Says command. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, NASB95) In the verses preceding this command, Jesus pointed out as examples of a well-lit city on a hill and a single flame oil lamp. A single candle can light a room, a city of candles can light the world.
Let’s differentiate for a moment between adopting marketing principals and shining our light. Shining a light is not about the message on our t-shirt or the bumper sticker on our car. Shining a light is not about how many likes and shares our “share if you love Jesus” Facebook campaign earns. Those may be positive declarations, but they don’t quite fit Jesus’ criteria of visible good works that generate praise to God.
So how do we shine our light? I like to look at it this way, Jesus is the light source and I’m a reflector. So, my light is doing as Jesus did. It could be little things like being polite, listening and caring about the needs of others, offering to pray (and doing it), acts of generosity and service towards all but especially for the “least of these.” Shining our light means being ready to share our story about Jesus, bridging divides, facilitating reconciliation, and loving all no matter how deep their darkness of soul. There are thousands of concrete ways to shine, but I hope you get the picture.
The quality of our light is reflected in the words we use, the attitudes we keep, the choices we make, the sacrifices we endure, and the desires of our heart. Shining our light may mean engaging with the culture, but sometimes it means going against the crowd. We need to ask ourselves – are we affecting others or are they affecting us?
We will not always know if our light is making a difference. Shine on anyway but always in a way that can lead folks to praise God. Jesus didn’t make this a suggestion but a command. Neither is this an on again off again thing but an always-on part of who we are in Christ. So let’s shine!