Recently, Taylor and I went on a road trip to Raleigh. As we drove along, ready to arrive at our destination, I noticed a lamp post on the side of the highway. Well, I say it was a light post, but you could barely call it that. The dinky little thing had a dim, orange glow where a bright light should have been. It was barely hanging on and was a sad excuse for a light.
As we drove by, it occurred to me that we as Christians are often like that lamp post. We have a purpose- to shine light in the darkness- yet we let our light grow so dim that people still can't see. We sit there, barely making a difference- maybe making no difference at all. We say, "but I'm still a Christian", just like that lamp post is technically still a lamp post, yet we are purposeless.
If I had gotten out of the car and stood under that lamp post, I may have been able to see a few feet in front of me. But those lights are not purposed to barely shine- they are purposed to shine brightly and make a huge impact on the darkness around them.
Shine Bright Like a...Lamp PostAs Christians, our purpose is to show the world the magnitude and perfection of Jesus Christ. We are told in Matthew 5:16 to shine brightly for God:
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.But what does it mean to let your light shine? What can we do to make sure we aren't like that dinky little lamp post? Does it really matter how much we shine, as long as we are shining a little bit?
Shining bright for God is our testimony to what He has done and who He is. If we have been bought with the blood of Jesus, we should want to shine as brightly as possible. Why? Because without God's grace- without God giving His Son for us- we are utterly doomed. We can never be good enough, we can never buy our way into heaven, and we can never outrun hell.
We deserve punishment for our sins, yet Jesus loved us enough to take our place and be our sacrifice for sin. Now our sin is paid for. So sure, we could go on sinning. We could even go on living a plain, mediocre life. What's the harm in that? The harm, is that after all that Jesus has done for you and me, the least we can do is shine bright for Him. And if we love Him and are grateful for His sacrifice, we will.
PurposelessWhen I think of shining bright for God, I think of having a purpose. Yes, shining bright also means living a holy life, like the verse above says. Living righteously is part of our purpose in and of itself, so let's not take that lightly.
But another part of our purpose is using our gifts for God. I love to write. I have wanted to be a writer since middle school (maybe even before). And when I went to college, I got a degree in English with a concentration in creative writing. Writing is a passion and a gift that God has given me. So I want to use it. That's why this blog exists. I seek to be a light through my writing.
We all have gifts and talents. God has gifted some people with a mind that does math like nobody's business (God bless you!). Some people are wired to be doctors, or lawyers, or gymnasts. And the cool thing is, two people can be gifted in the same area, and yet their paths and purposes may still be very different- like a doctor who ends up in a third-world country taking care of the ill, versus a doctor who ends up in the top hospital in the U.S. Both have a great purpose. One is not more important than the other, but both can shine brightly for the Lord in very different ways.
No Matter WhatHonestly, there's no formula. Most of you know what God has gifted you in. Those of you who don't know yet, don't worry. You'll see it when you need to. But the most important thing you can do in the here and now is "do everything you do for the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).
So even if you haven't realized your gifts yet, do whatever you are doing at the moment in a way that Christ shines through you. Let the world see Him in your heart, through your actions and words. And when you do find your "thing" that you are good at- do that for the glory of God as well. Every second of our lives should be shining bright for Jesus. Even in our own home when it's just us, or just us and our families. Even then, let us keep our light shining for Jesus by living according to His word.
Don't live in a state of purposelessness, like that lamp post. Instead, live a life shining bright for Jesus, as you strive to use your talents and abilities for Him!