After listening to “Right vs. Righteous” again, I got to thinking about all of the things that I did and was a part of that I felt was right but was I really doing what was righteous in the eyes of God. God lead me to Mathew 5:14-16.
In Christian circles, we constantly hear “be a light.” We read the verses about being the light of the world and our minds automatically go to lightbulbs. I even own a shirt that has a salt shaker and a lightbulb on it.
I think of the summer my husband and I got engaged and we went on a road trip with his family. We drove from Colorado to California. As we drove through the dark Nevada desert, we could see the glow of Vegas. It seemed like forever that we could see the glow from the city lights before we could actually see the city.
But is this really the light that we’re called to be like? A lightbulb? Lightbulbs are plugged into a socket and are stationary. You have to travel to the light to be blessed by it. You can put them on a lampstand (today we think light posts) to be more visible, but they’re still stationary. You can put it under a bowl and it still shines. Is this what God is talking about?
When reading the Bible, understanding historical and cultural context is so important. You need to look at who what writing, when they were writing and who they were writing to. And in these verses, Jesus wasn’t talking about lightbulbs. He was talking about fire. Have you ever watched a fire? It almost seems alive. It moves, it spreads, it consumes.
Is the light I’m shining alive and consuming or am I stationary like a light post?
If you put a fire under a bowl, it will be smothered and go out. It needs oxygen and fuel. Am I feeding my light? Am I taking into account that I can’t shine properly for all to see if I am not tending to my fire or am I okay with being a lightbulb that is connected to an artificial socket?
If I needed to carry a fire across town to take it to someone, everyone would see it. It can’t be hidden. Honestly (given my wonderful coordination) I wouldn’t trust myself to not accidently start little fires along the way because I would probably trip or drop my fire and it would spread. However, if someone needed a new lightbulb because theirs burned out, I would be really easy for me to throw one in my purse and take it to them and no one I passed along the way would even know. Is my light evident to all I encounter?
If I’m set on a stand, am I able to be reproduced? A light post just stands there and waits for people who need it to come to it. Moths will come and bump up against it, knocking some dust off themselves, but then they fly off to live their lives. If I wanted to take a torch and light it from that light post to take some of the light with me, I couldn’t. But with fire, you can light endless torches from one fire. And those torches can light other torches. Moths are drawn to the flame for warmth, not just to knock some dust off.
While light bulbs can get hot to the touch, they don’t give off heat the way fire does. We don’t gather around a flashlight while camping to keep warm…we light a fire. If you want your house to feel warm and cozy, you light a fire in the fire place, you don’t just turn on a light.
I want to be a light like what Matthew was really talking about. I want to be a fire starter of faith that is evident to all who I encounter. I want people to feel the warmth form my genuine love. I don’t want to live doing what I think is the “right Christian thing.” I want to live in a way that God views me as righteous.