Saturday, January 12, 2013

Day Twelve: Shine

The WORD of the Day:

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." 

--Matthew 5:16

Let Me Give You a Lift:

I have really been looking forward to writing this particular post. That's partly because I get to post this amazing song along with it, and partly because in my mind it represents the best thing about growing up going to church--the stories that become part of your fabric.  We hear them through songs, skits, even flannel boards from the time we are babies, so when we read passages in the Bible about them, we get a really vivid image with which we have a strong emotional connection.  

Just for context, Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7 are what Christians refer to as the "Sermon on the Mount," which is the most comprehensive sermon from Jesus recorded in the Bible.  It is chock full of imagery and pictures that Jesus gave his listeners to illustrate his points about how to live.  In the sermon, in the two verses preceding the Word of the Day, Jesus provides two examples of how we are to "shine."  In the first example, Jesus tells his followers that that they are "the light of the world."  He likens them to a city sitting on a hilltop which "cannot be hidden."  Jesus is telling people to stand out and to be a light that cuts through the darkness around them.  He tells them that if they are shining, just like that hilltop city, the people around them cannot help but notice.

In Jesus' second example, he reminds his followers that they do not light candles to hide them under bowls.  Instead, they put a candle on a stand so that "it gives light to the entire house."  Here, Jesus is taking the message a step further. He's telling that if we have the light ourselves, we should want to shine. And when we do, we cast light all around us.

In these two examples, Jesus says (1) that we should shine, and (2) that when we do, we will light up the world around us.  But the passage above is what really ties the whole thing together--it's the "why."  Why? Because Christians are to be people who live motivated by God's two great commandments (love for Him, and love for people). And when we do live in this way, we cannot help but do good in the world around us. And when people see us doing good, when they know that our motivation is faith-based (and sometimes even when they don't), it's God who gets the glory. Just as earthly parents are praised when their children do well, so God's children are a direct reflection of Him in this world.

These images--the city on the hill and the light in each of us--are some of the images from my childhood that come to mind every time I hear these verses.  I think of the little song we sang (which you will hear snippets of in the video below), "this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine."  But you know, there were also cautions in the song. Don't hide your light. Don't let anyone blow out your light.  And thinking of a candle actually reminds me of this important point: like any other fire, a candle has to be tended.  It can be snuffed out, it can be hidden.  I have to be deliberate in making sure that my candle is tended.  Often, that comes from remembering why we shine. It's not just to give God the glory, but it's also because at the end of the day, what the light really represents is hope.  That's a joy we can't help but shine about!

Give it a Listen:

Today's song I love because it is one of Howie's favorites. It is "This Little Light" by Addison Road.  I don't have the video to embed because Addison Road put their video on GodTube instead of YouTube, but here's the link

You've seen me post this one before. One of the band members took the children's tune and turned it into a sweet Seuss-esque letter to his children about life.  The band asked fans to send them footage, and the collection of fan videos made the music video. My favorite verse:

One day there will be no more pain
and we will finally see Jesus' face.
So until then, I'm gonna try
to brave the dark and let my little light shine

I confess, I get a little teary-eyed every time I hear it.

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