"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
The verse, read countless times before, stands out this time. I repeat it, meditating, savouring, writing it on my heart.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
We are not saved by our good deeds. No, salvation is a gift, a wonderful, undeserved, priceless gift. But what sort of faith would refuse? If we love God and seek to be like Christ, should there not naturally arise a desire to be as Christ to the world? Being a light, doing good works, bringing glory to God.
We can be that light when we reach out to others, rather than waiting to be reached out to. I am reminded of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
"O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love."
We can be the light that meets countless physical needs, feeding the hungry, sheltering the poor, clothing the naked, being generous. We can be the light that meets untold emotional needs, encouraging, loving, lifting up. We can be that light today, right here, to our families, seeking to love and serve and meet their needs, rather than waiting to first be loved and served and have our needs met.
And in doing these things, we can be the light that points to the One that meets our every spiritual need.
Sometimes we get it all wrong. All of us, all different types, have our weaknesses and blind spots. A fair-skinned, blue-eyed Jesus; a pope met with worshipful fanfare that would make Peter weep in horror and disgust; a weak gospel intended to tickle the ears and increase numbers rather than save souls. And on and on and on, errors made by humans but attributed to God. The light flickers.
Sometimes we ask all the wrong questions, blinded by pride and self-righteousness, preoccupied with I'm right and you're wrong, ignoring the injustices happening right in front of us, failing to be a set apart society, turning instead to an earthly government for salvation!
What are the right questions?
How can we be a set-apart people, a city on a hill, a light in a world of darkness? How can we love the least of these? How can we care for the orphans and widows? How can we love our neighbours as ourselves? How can we love God with all of our heart and mind and soul?
We can begin by living the relational community that God designed and laid out for us, Torah persisting through the ages. We are called to be a community, a set-apart people, loving one another and loving our God. The true body of Christ, transcending denominational lines, brothers and sisters bound by love and servitude for their God, the one who knows each person's heart and is not fooled by false humility.
All of our theorizing is worth nothing if we fail to helping in tangible ways, showing love instead of judgement, serving rather than demanding. Being Christ.
If we truly live this way, truly seek to be as Christ to others...what glory. What light.