When you read these verses, what do you think of?
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. 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. – Matthew 5:14-16
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:34-35
Well? I know many people have seen these verses and have thought that if they are a “good person”, that they are fulfilling their duty as Christians and that their lives will ultimately display God’s glory to those around them. Heck, I used to think this. I used to think that my daily hum-drum life where I avoid swearing, alcohol, drugs, smoking, coarse speech, and the like, and where I hold doors open for people as I smile at them will make people think, “What a nice guy. I bet he’s a Christian. I should investigate this whole Christianity thing more.”
Is that what you were thinking? So what’s wrong with this thinking? Well, a few things:
We’re Not Bright Enough
First of all, how “good” are you really? I know a lot of non-Christians who are making us look bad. How can we show God’s glory if His glory isn’t even close to the brightest thing shining? When was the last time we just saw a random stranger who seemed to be in need and actually did something about it? We might throw some spare change into the hands of a homeless person, but what about showing real love? What about inviting that person to enjoy a meal with you and your family at a nice restaurant and trying to get to know the person? Jesus showed kindness and compassion on countless poor sinners everywhere he went and you’d be lucky to find a Christian at your church who has done anything similar even once.
It’s not enough to avoid the “big sins” and to do a few tiny random acts of kindness a week. That’s not shining. That’s just showing that you’re not a terrible person. We need to shine brightly by sacrificing our time, money, and energy to help others, showing them that they matter to us and to God. We need to build up loving relationships.
They Don’t See God
When was the last time you said the name “Jesus” outside of church or your house? How are people going to attribute your kindness as an extension of God’s own love if they don’t know that he’s your source of love? Sure, you could get the occasional person to ask you why you’re so nice to them, but it’s not a guarantee, and you can diminish God’s light by not giving Him the glory earlier on.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? – Romans 10:14
Unless you attribute all of your love to God, others won’t either. We are called to love, but we are also called to tell others about Christ. Without Christ, you’re just easing people’s burdens and giving them a little joy before they head to hell. So don’t be afraid to bring Him up.
I know I come off a little harsh here. I don’t want to be, but it’s kinda my own frustration with myself coming out. I regret not showing love in so many situations that I hope writing this down and yelling at myself might knock it into my own head enough that I might live this out more fully as well. After all, how can I write these things, and exhort you to do good if I can’t bring myself to do it either? It’s hypocritical, but it happens a lot anyway because I’m just writing what’s on my mind. Anyway, I hope you bless someone today and that God blesses you as well.