Sunday, June 3, 2007
“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. … If I make you light bearers, you don’t think I am going to hide you under a bucket do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I have put you there – on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! … By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up to God …”. Matthew 5 - The Message
Jesus said that he is the light of the world. He is not a 40 watt light bulb. He is THE light. Brighter than the sun. Light that blazes like a signal fire on a hill. In John 1, The Message describes it as, "the life light that blazed out of the darkness …”. John also tells us that the darkness could not put it out. God has put this incredible light in us. “As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light”. (Jn 12:35-36, The Message).
Houston, we have a problem. A BIG problem. Our problem is this. We cover up our light. When I took the above photo, I was trying to portray the idea that we have this beautiful light of God inside of us but we mask it. We hide it. Some people find this picture disturbing – they don’t like the glow through the eyes. At first I was concerned, as I was focused on the beauty of the light that comes out of the eyes. Upon reflection, I am comfortable that this picture makes people uncomfortable. We should be. It is disturbing that we keep our light hidden behind carefully crafted masks.
This problem is not new to Jesus. It was a concern to him several thousand years ago. Jesus tells Nicodemus of this in John 3. He says, “God light streamed into the world but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God.” He goes on to talk about people being addicted to denial and illusion. What a statement – addicted to denial and illusion. Think on it for a moment. That addiction … that’s the mask. It is a horrible, evil thing. How dare we take the light within us and mask it. We have been entrusted as bearers of light … and we hide it. How this must grieve God.
Why are we addicted to denial and illusion? How does it serve us? There is a key in this passage. It says, “ … addicted to denial and illusion, fearing a painful exposure …”. That’s it. We don’t want to be exposed. I think we think if people saw us as we really are, they wouldn’t accept us. This strikes at one of the core needs we are wired with. The need for relationship - to be understood and valued. The need to be loved.
Perhaps, if we admit our struggles and failures, we would have to admit that the beautiful facades we have invested in, the beautiful facades so carefully crafted and built, are just that. Facades. Facades built on a lie. The lie that we are good enough. The lie that we can make it on our own. Outside of Christ, our righteousness is as filthy rags. We are not self-sufficient. We are not self-made. We are completely dependent on God, whether we like to admit it or not. He is the reason we breathe! In him, we live, move and have our being. Acknowledging this, brings us face to face with who we are, and who God is. It’s a scary thing to stand naked and exposed before him, covered in the mud and grime of our everyday endeavours. But it is only when we step into the exposure of his light, that he can begin to clean us up. It is a humbling thing to put yourself in the hand of another.
God calls us to walk in authenticity – to be real. Something so simple, that many of us find so difficult. It’s a powerful thing. At the end of John 3, The Message says, “anyone living and working in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God work it is”. As I have said before, we are God’s art-pieces. As such, we reflect our artist. Why would we want to hide that? I will close out this blog with a few words from the story, The Velveteen Rabbit” … it’s pretty self-explanatory.
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
Jimmy Abegg says, “we are ragamuffins, much loved by God in the midst of our short comings and failures …”. It’s okay. We are loved. Drop the mask. Get real and let your light shine.