Today was tough.
Funerals are always hard. Even when you don't really know the person who lies at the front of the building, there is something about seeing the pain and sadness of the family and friends that weighs on your heart. Funerals make you think about how short life is, and how you are spending your time on this earth.
Today, the man conducting the service said something incredibly profound -
"The only thing you can take with you when you go ... is what you leave behind."
It is so true. It really makes you examine yourself and think about how you want to live. It especially made me think about Matthew 5:15-16.
"No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men in such a way that they should see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven."
It makes me wonder how often I set my lamp under a basket. Is the only time that I tell people about the love and mercy of God or talk about Him at all, when I am within the four walls of a building?
I remember when I first became a Christian and I had a conversation with someone who was asking me what I was doing with a "Jesus Fish" on my car. He would probably laugh now reading this, especially considering the amazing Christian man he has become since then. But his point was that a true follower of Christ doesn't need to put it on display all of the time if they are steady in the faith. At the time it didn't make a lot of sense, and years later, and I think he would agree... it still doesn't. I think sometimes people feel like they don't want to "shine" so to speak, because they feel like it would be mistaken for a show. Not genuine. Or maybe because they think that not speaking up about God and just being kind and living a good life will be all the display they need. Unfortunately, I think a lot of times that can cause them to seem like the only time they talk about, think about, or read about God are, like I said, when they are within those four walls on Sunday and Wednesday nights.
But God specifically told us to SHINE.
Now, do I think that means sticking a bunch of Jesus Fish on your car and wearing WWJD bracelets up your entire arm? Well... no, I don't. I believe it means living so that God gets the glory. Not just being a nice person and hoping that people think you follow Christ. I know several people that don't believe in God that are incredibly nice people, people that I love. But I mean, being a good person, loving BIG, but ALSO letting them know why you do. Because God first loved you. If you aren't telling them about the mercy and forgiveness that Jesus has shown for you, then how do you expect them to know where your Hope and Joy come from? The last part of that verse says "glorify your Father who is in Heaven." So why not give Him the glory?
"Because Your love is better than life, my LIPS will glorify You."- Psalm 63:3
This also comes with another side, though. Nobody is perfect. We all mess up. And so when you are open about your faith, and you struggle with something or make the wrong decision, then yes, people might also associate that back with you being a Christian. An imperfect one. They might even be harder on you because ..."I thought you were supposed to be some good Christian." Yeah. It can get hard. I know from experience, especially having a blog. Sometimes people pick apart your every word waiting to find something to complain about. It's sad really. But don't be afraid of that. 2 Corinthians 12:19 says-
"But He said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
What a comforting thought, right? Ahh... we don't have to pretend to be perfect. We don't have to act like we have it together ALL of the time. That would be so exhausting, I think, to live a life where we always had to pretend that it was perfect. That we always loved our circumstances, and we never needed help. But we can admit our faults. We can ask for prayers for our struggles. We can swallow pride and apologize. I'm so glad we can.
So yes, there will always be people watching you when you try to shine your light before men. Either they are watching and wanting what you've got in your life, or they are watching to see how you react when you mess up. But always remember that you are representing Christ. And something that one of my favorite friends always used to say to me when I was in college - "Live your life in such a way, that when people say negative things about you, or spread lies about you in order to build their own selves up ... nobody will believe them."
So, how do we SHINE?
Well, one of our friends, Tye, said it best the other night when he said this:
"God never intended for his word to stay on the pages of a book."
I've never thought of it quite like that before. He intended for us to write it on our hearts, and live it in our lives. And I'm certain that He doesn't want us to seek Him, find our salvation, and then be satisfied. We aren't called to grab a hold of a gift, and hide it away in our pockets so that others don't know how to get to it. It's definitely not "as long as I'm saved and forgiven... that's all I need." No, we are called to spread the Gospel of Christ. To tell His story.
How He changed my life....
How He can change Yours.