If we stay silent, those who have heard only words of damnation will never come to know the saving Word of God. They will remain strangers to the Lord Christ who came to bring life and light of all people.
as interpreted by Deborah
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its flavor, how can its saltiness be restored? It is worthless, and is thrown out and trampled under foot.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill can be seen for miles around. No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a basket, but sets it on a stand where it will illuminate the whole house.
“Let your light shine the same way; so that others may see the good that you do and give praise to your Father in heaven.”
“Let your light shine,” says the Lord, “so that others will see it.” And we nod, knowingly, stifling a yawn. Right, right; “Don’t hide your light under a bushel basket.”
Show your stuff. Modesty has its place, but don’t be ashamed of your gifts and talents. If you’ve spent years studying voice, don’t hesitate to sing in the choir. If you’re a natural athlete, hop right over and join the sack race at the company picnic.
OK. We got the memo. Done.
Except that’s not what He’s talking about.
Jesus is not a personal fitness coach — except insofar as our spiritual strengths are concerned. His interest is in how we exercise our Christianity: that we be lamps that illuminate the gospel by the living of our lives.
The ways in which we do that can take many forms, of course. For some it is in service to the wider community: concerns with peace, justice, education, care for the vulnerable. Others work closer to home; focusing on the local neighborhood, friends, and family. There are those who devote themselves to intercessory prayer and praise, “keeping the home fires lit,” while the rest of us are laboring in the fields.
Whatever we do, wherever we live, whatever our situation, we are called to be Light-bearers. No one is exempt from this work. Whoever we are, we can do something. Our task, as Christians, is to proclaim the good news; we are not supposed to keep it to ourselves.
For some — most of us, I imagine, the idea of “proclaiming Christ” is downright scary. Many of us are survivors of the kind of “Christian witness” that was based more on the battering-ram than on the Lamb of God.
That is all the more reason I believe we — most of all — need to come out as Christians; to admit that we follow the Lord’s teachings, to confess that His doctrine of overwhelming grace and abundant love infuses our spirits with hope and courage. If we fail to do so, the radiant, glorious good news of God’s love may be hidden from sight.
It is up to us to speak the Truth to power; to lift Christ up as the exemplar of loving compassion, forgiveness, and new beginnings. If we stay silent, others will lay claim to the body of our Lord — and bury His redeeming Message under their personal prejudices and disordered emotions.
If we stay silent, those who have heard only words of damnation will never come to know the saving Word of God: the life and light of all people (John 1:4).
We have a heavy responsibility, and no mistake.
But that is no reason to be weighed down in spirit.
“From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!”
~ St. Teresa of Avila
The good news was given to lift people up, not beat them down. That is how the Gospel can be recognized; not by works alone — but by the joy that arises in the hearts of those who encounter it.
True Christianity encourages the spirit of play, delights in laughter, and is present wherever happiness can be found. It is not theoretical, but experiential, firmly based on the sure and certain knowledge of a God over all who is gracious and good.
It is the eternal Love that inspires our love (1 John 4:19).
If we truly know this absurdly generous, endlessly merciful, deeply compassionate, infinitely loving God, how can we keep from singing? and dancing? and laughing? and welcoming the stranger, risking and daring and forgiving and caring .. and doing cartwheels on the lawn?
All of the gospel writers — most especially the writer of John — came to know Jesus as the Christ: the Lord of life and light. They were not persuaded by arguments, cowed by criticism or condemnation, or intimidated by judgments or threats. Love alone convinced them; Jesus’ love for His disciples and for all those He met. And that love and joy continued to shine in them, sustaining them always — even in the darkest, most dangerous times:
What has come into being in Him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
~ John 1:4-5
For our own life of faith and for others we must “seek the light”; learn to look at the world with holy optimism, divine compassion, and radiant love. Those who meet us should know that we are Christians — not because we try to talk them to death about Jesus, but because when they are with us they feel hopeful, encouraged, happy, and at peace.
This doesn’t mean that we should ignore the serious issues and profound problems that plague our planet, only that we not allow them to obscure Christ’s Promise. We are not the last laborers; the Kingdom of God is still a work-in-progress. (Or, as that well-known theologian Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”)
Virtual hugs and real-time blessings,
Let your light shine radiantly, so that others may see the good that you do and give praise to your Father in heaven.