The Flame and the flicker
Perhaps writing this and posting it on my website is ironic or something, but I hope you come away today having read something which encourages, challenges and stirs you. Because today, I'm going to be sharing Truth like it's about to run out because honestly, sometimes I just need to preach to myself.
In Matthew's Gospel, after illustrating the point He's about to make with a bit of imagery, Jesus begins to address His disciples...
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
In today’s culture of social media and celebrity status handed over to people literally ‘just because’, we couldn’t be blamed for thinking that we don’t really have a challenge on our hands when encouraging people to ‘let their light shine’. But taking a moment to pause on this, we might find that actually, the challenge is greater than we think.
When people’s ‘light’ is reduced to a snapchat story and a detailed Facebook status of what they had for breakfast, perhaps that light Jesus was talking about here is only flickering.
In John’s Gospel, chapter 8, verse 12, Jesus says these words:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jesus is THE light of the world. He’s just given us, as His children, permission to reflect His glory. His glory. His, and not our own. There’s the challenge. Today, we’re noticed (and celebrated) for putting an outfit together really well and having decent lighting in which to take a selfie… I’m totally guilty of the odd selfie by the way. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but there’s SO MUCH MORE.
On Instagram, people exchange offers of ‘liking’ others’ photos in the hopes that theirs will be liked in return. If we’re more interested in being liked and followed than we are people following Jesus, we’re not going to get very far. Let’s go back to our original verse:
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
The light within us is indeed to burn brightly. The plans and purposes He has for us are indeed to unfold before those in front of us, but Lord forgive us if that’s the ultimate goal. Those next two words, ‘so that’, are game changers. We allow our light to shine so that people will be pointed to the Source of it.
So yes, practice those good deeds in front of people. Serve them, love them. Use the talents God has given you. Nurture them, practice them. But in all things, make a way for those who see you to meet your Maker. Because we are not the light, He is.
All any of this is, is a beautiful reminder that in our weak, human frailty, God’s power is made perfect. Let that be known.
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