" In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
We understand that we've been called to be a light to the world, but what kind of light exactly?
What started this thinking process most recently is the increasing amount of Christians that I see who are so quick and eager to correct others for doing wrong (myself sometimes included in that!). While I know it happens a lot outside of the internet, I think social media has made it that much easier for us to express our thoughts and opinions freely. We feel comfortable hiding behind a computer screen when we attack someone else for doing or saying something that we don't particularly agree with. But is this how Christians should act? Is this aggressive, sometimes violent, portrayal of faith an accurate representation of who Christ is? What kind of light is that?
I like to think of it like this (and I'm paraphrasing a message given by my brother a few years back):
There are a multitude of different kinds of light. There are flashlights, headlights, lamps, candles, lights for the garage, lights for the closet, chandeliers, sunlight, moonlight, the list goes on! All have the same purpose: to help you see things better. But what happens when one of those lights is used incorrectly? Let's take the flashlight, for example, because I think it's one of the closest things we have to the kind of light God wants us to be. When a flashlight is used correctly, it helps you find your way at night or it can help you see into places that are really dark. You point the light in the direction of the path or the thing that you want to illuminate. If you and a friend are walking together, you can both see the path clearly when the light is pointed in the right direction. However, if you take that light and you shine it in your friend's eyes, they can't see the path and neither can you because you're shining it at your friend and not at the path!
God calls His word a "lamp" to our feet.
"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path."
A lamp is a soft light. It's a light that is just enough to help you see, but not so much that you're blinded by it. Too often Christians are shining their light in people's eyes as opposed to illuminating the path...
My thinking is this--if you are supposed to be a light, your light should shine just enough to help others walk the path. It's a quiet kind of light. The very fact that you follow the Lord and are eager to walk in his ways is enough. His light shines through you--your LIFE becomes the flashlight. When you get overzealous and too eager to be in each other's faces about who is right and who is wrong, neither of you is walking the path. You're just blinding each other. The same is true if you're too busy boasting about how great of a Christian you are or acting "holier than thou". Your light is pointing at you and not at the path. Being God's light requires humility. It's a gentle, kind, and beautiful kind of light. It's friendly and welcoming and beckons others to walk in it.
While I know it's a growing process that's going to take a lot of time and effort to achieve, that's the kind of light--the kind of Christian, I want to be.