Have you ever awakened from a nightmare so jarring that your heart continued to race even after you opened your eyes? What now? Like most people, you probably reached over and switched on the lamp. Within two seconds, those clarifying beams of light had cast out the darkness and vaporized those lingering gremlins.
Jesus called his followers the light of the world. “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden,” he explained. “Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” (Matthew 5: 14 – 15)
The Lord has a simple point: don’t conceal your power. And yet we do. For instance:
I bury the light of Christ when I suppose unbelievers need to be reassured I’m just like them. Where did I get this deadly idea that being transparent means I show off my sin nature? I struggle to be completely inoffensive by laughing off self-destructive behavior, winking at temptations, and self-censoring every honest word that might possibly reveal how differently I see life!
- The problem here is that unchurched people don’t really fear that Christians aren’t like them.
- They are actually convinced we are just like them- except that we pretend to believe quirky, obscure religious ideas that make us strangely nervous when we talk about them. Nobody takes that stuff seriously.
My witness is more compelling when neighbors and co-workers realize I care about them even though I am quite different from them. Because I believe the most important assets in life are spiritual and supernatural, I reject materialism. I am completely convinced that I’m going to live forever- just like Jesus promised those who live in him. I believe that God has high expectations for me, so I make demands of myself even as I show grace to everybody else. I can smile through my tears because God is in control.
My unchurched neighbors don’t really believe Christians are never sad: they just think we’re hypocrites with synthetic smiles. It’s harder to dismiss my story when it’s apparent that I sometimes experience sadness or frustration: I just refuse to be ruled by misguided emotions.
No wonder multitudes aren’t streaming into American churches for answers: they don’t have any questions! We in the Church have convinced ourselves that the only way to get close to lost people is to turn off the light! “They don’t know Jesus! Hurry! Lights out!” I dare not let them see that I’m different! Put a bag on it!
That’s why lost people assume we’re just like them- except that we go to churches on Sunday mornings to talk about religious ideas we don’t honestly believe. Why would they possibly aspire to change anything to become more like us? In our hearts, it’s painfully clear we’re already just like them.
Let’s you and I do something radical and unsettling for Easter. Tell someone you care about that you’re going to live forever! Smile and trust God’s promises even when your heart is broken. Define what holy really means and then explain why it hurts so good. Let your transparent life raise questions in the hearts and minds of the clueless.
Turn on the Light and leave ’em wondering!
Lift up the Cross!