“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
What does it mean to be light in a troubled world? Speaking out against wrongs? Certainly. Standing for what is right and good? Always. But is it that simple?
What if what is wrong to one person or group creates another wrong? For instance on many campuses now, any speech or idea that someone finds offensive or wrong is no longer allowed. This curtails not only the right to free speech—another wrong—but eliminates discussion that explores off-limits concepts and dulls the steel-on-steel that is the sharpening of minds in a free society. Here is a link to a video that shows how young people are now conditioned to accept patently false facts for the sake of accepting differences. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfO1veFs6Ho
So wrongs aren’t always clear, but surely what is right and good must be. We need only look at the political campaigns to see how differently even upright, sincere, and God-fearing (or not) would-be leaders view moral and social issues. Knowing right and wrong on a huge scale, i.e. murder, is not the same as knowing how best to handle a particular crisis. And can there be a better example of how badly our differences make us behave? There is absolute truth, but only God comprehends it absolutely, just as only God is good. Yet we all have our “good” boxes and anything that doesn’t fit in that box must be bad. The only problem is that no two boxes are exactly the same—even within the body of Christ. And when our boxes clash, what the world sees is not the starburst shown above.
In my novel TOLD YOU SO, Grace Evangeline tries to use her fame and popularity to promote values. She is a spokesperson for strength and virtue, writing in a genre that is increasingly dark and immoral. She is a light on a hill, so that others can see the way through darkness and know they don’t have to succumb to the world’s expectations. But what happens if she stumbles?
I had a discussion the other day with someone who’d read my book and related strongly to that element. During a time of crisis in her church, when the pastor famously fell from grace, a non-believer told her what struck him most was how eagerly we “eat our own.”
Light is a spectrum. It is only white when all the wavelengths are present. If the yellow light doesn’t agree with the green and tries to outshine it, or the orange thinks the indigo is out there on the fringe with nothing valuable to offer, or the red sins and is cast out, the rainbow is broken and the light can’t shine. Maybe the body of Christ can shine brighter by seeking unity and understanding and by showing respect to one another as in the words of Micah 6:8: (NIV) “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”