Being a Light in this World
Last week, I had an all too rare time of sitting on my back porch watching the sunrise. The simplistic beauty in those few moments of pink, purple, blue, with hints of orange were so moving and breathtaking that my 3-year old who happened to be outside with me, has asked every day since to go watch the sunrise again. To her, it was a magical and memorable experience. Watching the sky change from an all-consuming darkness to something beautiful and majestic all from a singular and distant source of light left me feeling peaceful and hopeful about the day ahead. In short, it was powerful.
This simple moment reminded me of a passage in Matthew 5:13-16 where Jesus says:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bowl, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Sometimes, being salt and light to the world feels like a big ask of God; daily living a life that is salt and light to others. In all the hats I wear and circles I intersect, how can I realistically do this? How do I live a life in such a way that my light can be a beacon of hope and peace to point others back to Christ? How can I live ‘in the world’ and not ‘of the world’ in such a way that I can remain ‘salty’ for others so that I am a benefit in their own walk with Christ?
Thanks to my sunrise experience, I’m actually going to tackle this command backwards. For me, it’s very easy to say and do things like everyone else so that I ‘fit in’. It’s easy when I’m frustrated or annoyed to express my feelings outwardly to others or about others instead of choosing to be light. To be a light for others is hard. It’s daily surrendering my will, my time, my priorities to God. Here are 4 quick (and by no means exhaustive) examples of how I’ve found to be a light in this world.
1. I must choose to make time for a consistent, daily quiet time with God. I’ve noticed, it’s very hard for me to give what I haven’t received. If Christ is the source of light, then the only way for His light to get into me and my words, actions, thoughts, and deeds is if I’m consistently connected to the source. So, what does that look like?
· It means I turn off the tv and my phone and go to bed earlier than I might naturally choose so that I can and will wake up early to have 1:1 time with God.
· It means spending time not only reading and learning about God, but being quiet to listen to him as well.
· It means investing in him like I invest in any other hobby or activity that I enjoy. If I’m willing to spend money on a gym membership, getting my nails done, or a trip to Starbucks, then I should be willing to spend money and time on what I claim as my number one priority. When I first started doing quiet times, I realized I needed help. I needed books to inspire me and teach me. I needed to be fed through the wisdom and knowledge of others so that I could grow in my own. Reading a chapter or verse in the Bible and then trying to glean insight all on my own was a struggle and made a desire for quiet times hard. I ended up discouraged because I wanted to want to have a quiet time, but frankly did not enjoy them. It wasn’t until I found books about the Bible that my hunger, knowledge, and desire to understand more grew. I had to be willing to invest in my knowledge of God.
2. Being light in the darkness for others means saying no and not participating in what everyone else is doing. I’m not going to sugarcoat this; it’s not easy.
· It’s not gossiping when you’re just as frustrated or annoyed about the person being discussed. It’s instead, lifting them up in front of others.
· It’s not griping or complaining when things aren’t going our way. It’s hard when the company or boss says or does something you feel isn’t fair, but it’s being the voice of positivity and support during frustration.
· It’s putting down our phones to see others around us. This is a hard one for me. If I’m waiting anywhere for more than ½ a nanosecond, my instinct now is to look at my phone. But when I do, I miss an opportunity to be light to all those around me. How can I smile to the woman in front of me or say a kind word of encouragement to the man behind me when the only light they see from me is the glare of me staring at my cell phone?
3. Being a light to others is to actively look for ways to serve others; to be kind and help the people we encounter throughout the day.
· To be light means to obey when God moves in your heart to help someone else. For me, it was just over 3 years ago when I felt God asking me to walk up to a strangerin a parking lot and offer him my umbrella on a cold and rainy day. Regrettably, I rationalized that I would look silly doing that and ignored what God asked me to do. I don’t know what would’ve happened if I had obeyed, but I do know that over 3 years later, I still remember my act of disobedience and have regretted it ever since. I know, that at least for those few minutes, I could’ve been light to this man walking across a rainy parking lot with no umbrella, but instead, I wasn’t.
4. Last, and this may be the hardest, it means finding ways to practically bless those who hurt us. It’s trusting God with our pain and purposely blessing those who may need it the most.
· Take baby steps here if you need, but take the step. You can begin by praying God to bless the person who hurt you. Pray that God change your heart so that you’re able to see them the way He sees them. Maybe it’s sending a short note or coming to a place of genuine forgiveness. It’s being open and willing to be obedient if God chooses to move in your heart where they’re concerned. It’s realizing that they too are a child of God and need His light as much as everyone else you encounter.