Looking to be Light

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I know that I'm supposed to be different. I'm supposed to be light in a dark world. I'm supposed to be salt in an otherwise flavorless and rotting place. I'm supposed to be the representation of God walking around in a human body.

I often find myself questioning what that really means. If I asked that question to many church-going people, I can imagine a few of the answers I might get. In fact, they're the good Sunday School answers that would first pop into my mind as well. "Let's see, we should go to church all the time, no matter what. We should be nice. We should pay 10%(ish) of our income to our church. We shouldn't drink alcohol. (That's just for good Southern Baptists. :) ) We should wear modest clothing. We shouldn't say bad words. We should do something nice for a needy person every once in a while. We should work hard and be responsible people with savings accounts and retirement plans so that our family is provided for."


We love to check things off. It just gives us such a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. I've done what I need to do, and now I'm free to enjoy all the fruits of my labor.

But what I often find is that I do most of the good things I'm supposed to do, but I find myself still not standing out from the crowd a whole lot. No, I'm not facing prison time and my kids are well-behaved in school and we keep our grass mostly cut so the neighbors don't think badly of us. But is that all Jesus meant? Does that make me look like He looked? I don't remember him mowing the lawn.

In reading through the Gospels, the chronicles of Jesus' time on earth, this summer, it seems like one thing monopolizes most of the pages. Over and over and over, I see a theme that isn't necessarily what I've always thought about when I read about Jesus' earthly ministry. He is constantly up against those Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus spends a lot of his time sparring with the "good, religious people" of his day. Wouldn't you think that would be who he'd team up with to accomplish his mission on earth? But no. They were his archenemies, it seems.

So we like to point fingers and pride ourselves on not being like those stinky religious, Jesus-hating guys. The funny thing is, though, that sounds an awful lot like what one of them would say. They loved to point fingers at others and pat themselves on the back.

What I've found really interesting, though, is that Jesus doesn't just fuss at the Pharisees for their self-righteous ways. He warns the twelve guys closest to him against becoming like them. (Matthew 16:5-12) It would seem that these twelve (minus one wolf in sheep's clothing, maybe) wouldn't be likely candidates for Pharisee-ish behavior. A bunch of ragtag guys who've seen Jesus' every move. Surely they would never turn into self-righteous, legalistic, totally-missing-the-point people like those dirty religious guys.

Obviously, though, Jesus thinks all of us have that potential. He warns them and us...beware. Don't be like those guys. It can happen before you know it. We think we know him and are like him, but we could be living as his enemies.

So if I'm not supposed to be like the people who are all talk and no love and if I am supposed to be like God in the flesh, Jesus, what does that mean? For me, I've boiled it down to two things.

Love like I've been loved by God.

So much of what the religious elite were missing was love. They hadn't truly experienced the love and grace of God. They were trying to get to him by their good works and fancy reputation. They didn't see their need for forgiveness, so they hadn't realized how amazing God's grace is. I don't think grace was in their vocabulary. It stands to reason that if they hadn't experienced or realized the One who is love, they couldn't then extend that love and grace to others.

But I have experienced the love and grace of God, yet oftentimes, I still don't extend even a fraction of that love and grace to others. Sure, I love when it suits me. I love when it's easy. I love when it doesn't require much from me. But other times?

God's love is boundless, extravagant, unconditional, sacrificial, and not often returned. Do I love like that? Do I love my husband like that? My kids? My neighbor? The orphan? The hungry? The guy who cut me off in traffic? The irritable? The ungrateful? Or do I just love myself?

We are to love like God loves. We are to go out of our way to love those who may never return it. We are to give of ourselves, our time, our money, our comfort for the benefit of others. We are to love when someone wrongs us or irritates us or messes up our schedule. There is never an excuse to withhold love. If anyone ever had a good excuse, it was Jesus. But He loved us with everything He has.

In my life, maybe that looks like this: Quit criticizing others. Love them. Be willing to foster or adopt or never ever redecorate my home so that I can give more to the orphan. Take care of my children while my husband travels the globe helping those in dark find light. Quit thinking about vacations for my family and start thinking about how we can help those who are hurting. Call people who are going through a hard time. Show a little patience with that child who can't help but push every button I have. Encourage my husband. Choose to hold my tongue and think about what is true, lovely, excellent, and admirable instead of giving someone a piece of my mind.

You get the point.

The second thing:

Live like I believe God.

The Pharisees claimed to know God and were supposedly looking for the Messiah. But when he didn't fit their bill, they pitched a fit and decided to kill him. God's agenda didn't match theirs, so they ditched him. They did not believe God's plan could possibly be better than their own.

When God's plans don't match my own, do I whine, complain, worry, fear, and fret? Um, lots of times, YES. That looks an awful lot like the world. I say I trust God. I say my life is in His hands. I say He works all things for good. I say He is Sovereign. But the first speed bump that comes along, I fret. Or maybe I complain.

I worry about money. I worry about my kids. I fear cancer. I am annoyed by certain people in my life. I fret over how hard it would be to adopt. I complain about the endless number of crumbs on my floor. I feel sorry for myself when I'm nauseous and tired for weeks on end with no baby in sight.

If I really believed God, wouldn't I live like I know all these things are for my good? Wouldn't I eagerly dive into the daily trials of life, believing He has ordained them and will use them to make me more like Jesus? Won't I laugh at death because I know it only leads to victory? Won't I pay my bills, praising God because I know he is the one who provides? Won't I be willing to follow him everywhere because I really believe he'll be with me, because that's what he promised?

When the world sees us with joy, peace, a willingness to step out in faith, denying ourselves, living for eternity and not here and now, don't you think they'll take notice? When the world sees us put aside fears and frustrations for joy and patience, don't you think they'll take notice? When our actions don't make any sense in relation to our circumstances, don't you think they'll take notice?

It seems like Jesus never did what people expected. And that got their attention. If I'm truly loving like He loved and trusting the Father like He did, people will notice. They won't notice me. Because none of that is me. That can only happen with Jesus in me.

I know there's a good chance I'll fail at this before I have my coffee tomorrow morning, but I also know there's a good chance that God is faithful. He will finish the work He's begun in me. And hopefully, people will notice.

By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. I John 2:5-6


  1. Great post! Definitely something I needed to read today thanks :0) Love your blog btw!

    1. Thanks. I think I need to be reminded of this stuff about every five minutes myself. :)


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