You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14)
When God asks us to be the light of the world which one does he mean? I asked myself this question as I looked at all the different lights around my house. Our backyard had a glaring spotlight for when the kids played basketball in the evening. I used a laser pointer for presentations. The kitchen was fitted with slow, energy saving LED lights that gave light from overhead. Soft glowing lamps lit the living room.
I was thinking about these lights while I talked to my sister one day. “Mom doesn’t understand how I can talk to Andrea because of how she left her husband,” my sister said. “But I don’t want to judge her.”
Her words were a laser focused right on my guilty heart. I was dealing with a similar situation. Two neighbors had dumped their husbands and found two new boyfriends. How should I treat them? Like a spotlight pointing out to everyone what they were doing wrong? Or a confused motion sensitive nightlight that went off instead of on when they were around?
My sister continued with a story of another woman ostracized because of her affair. “Her family isn’t talking to her,” she said. “When they see her in a store they ignore her.”
“That’s terrible,” I said, feeling the poor woman’s pain. What followed can only be described as the great throat clearing from the sky. “Ahem,” followed by, “Does this sound familiar?” The words rang in my head.
Yes, that’s what I was doing, ostracizing people because of their behavior. I saw them at the bus stop everyday and didn’t say a word. I thought what they were doing was awful. And further more I thought they were awful people for doing it. And as long as I’m being honest . . I had slipped into talking about their awful behavior. Plain and simply, I’d taken on the role of being the great spotlight in the sky. I was judging them and wanted all to see their bad behavior.
The Bible is full of advice about judgment. Jesus himself cleared a street of spotlighters with the simple phrases, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”(John 8:7)
I wondered how I should handle the bus stop. Since a spotlight was out, what kind of light should I be?
A day later, shopping I got the answer to this question. I saw a gorgeous lamp. A light bulb set between two brass ornate pieces-the base and the top. Surrounding the bulb where strings of crystals surrounded by strings of glass beads. The light this lamp gave off reminded me of the broken bits of rays I see when the sun breaks through a cloud.
I realized that shinning my light meant being with people in the mess and trying to help them see God’s light and love. God wanted me to be the light that breaks through the clouds and darkness. Light that is warm, heavenly, and shining from within outwards. God didn’t want me to shine my light onto a situation; he wanted me to shine my light into their lives.
Help me to be your light shining into this dark world. Help me to be a loving, healing and warm light so that people will be drawn to you through me. Catherine Weiskopf