By Melissa Gardner
Matthew 5:13-16 (The Message Bible)
"Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m 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! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."
Each week it seems, there is something to grieve. We grieve for helpless babies shot dead in a daycare center and their families whose arms and hearts feel empty. We grieve because of injustice. We grieve over the prolonged wars, nuclear threats, uprisings, demonstrations against oppression, famines, crises, and chaos. We grieve that people are seriously hurting. The world is hurting and there seem to be constant explosions. If not here, then there. If not there, then here. And then there are all of the other things that we may not yet see, but maybe we feel, that are just under the surface, waiting for the right conditions to pop off.
We’ve been through two years of great pain and uncertainty. The mental and physical health of many has declined. And there is economic instability on the horizon, as well. To all of the world’s issues, there is an answer, right?
Let’s look at Matthew 14-16, in light of all of these things happening, not to mention the upheavals and struggles that we are facing right now, both individually and as a collective.
“You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
In other words, Saints – shine! Get lit up! Gain a perspective that has the love of Christ at the center. We are to let our lights shine before men. The Bible says that we are the light of Christ to the world. This world is in darkness. A darkness that will continue to cause hurt, pain, war, abuse, anger, and hate if we don’t stop hiding our lights. We are the holders of the true Light. The light of Christ. The salt (or influence of Christ) through love. We offer the awareness, knowledge, understanding, and the transformative power of Christ to the world.
So, I ask…How’s your shine? This is a question I had to ask myself, too.Because we all have to constantly examine ourselves, right? We read the word, we listen to the exposition of the word, we hide the word in our hearts and we allow the transformation from darkness to light to occur.
“A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”
This is beautiful imagery of the number of us who are in Christ standing together holding the Light high that it may be a beacon, like a lighthouse, that draws those who are in need to safety. But how many of us run away from the spotlight? How many of us run away from our position inside the bright city working to spread the Gospel with our brethren and instead we just try to be close enough to receive some of the benefits of the Light?
And how many of us stand boldly in the Light, allowing that Light to shine in us first to cleanse our dark places so we can then shine in whatever ways God presents to us so all can give glory to God?
How’s your shine, Sis? Are you hiding under a basket? Are you putting excuse after excuse in front of what God has called you to do to shine His light? Know this: a hidden light is useless in the dark.
Have you ever needed a flashlight to see and the one you have is dead or has such a dim light that it doesn’t really help at all? Yeah. Useless.
Stop hiding. Stop telling yourself that you can’t. Stop believing the lies of the enemy. Stop being ashamed because Christ has taken away shame. Say what you have been given to say! Do not be afraid, yes? Don’t be afraid that the words may not come out perfectly. We are imperfect in Christ’s perfection. In our weakness, the power of God is made strong.
Create art and start conversations.
Build that group, that business, or that podcast.
Get back to writing that book.
Ask for help. Pay for help. Delegate so you can prioritize giving God glory through the gifts He’s given to you.
Take that class.
Tell your story because it matters.
Shine so that people will see your light, your love, your comeback, your care, your grace, your self-control, your joy, and then listen not only to the message that you live before them but also to the message of peace with God through Jesus Christ that verbally give to them.
Because we’ve already been given everything we need. We, the believers in Christ, are the REAL “Light-Bearers." We just have to listen to that inner man/inner woman. We have to trust in and follow that still, small voice that leads us to joy unspeakable because we live in obedience to the leading of God’s spirit in us.
Beloved, don’t allow the traumas that we’ve been through and that we experience daily to kill your messages and your voice. Don’t let people who are in darkness steal your joy and creativity or destroy your desires and dreams. You belong to God, Saints. As we get out of our own way and get out there doing the real work of love and reconciliation with God, we are guaranteed that men will see our example – how we live individually and how we love in our families and community. They will recognize where it comes from! They will see the light and then honor and glorify God!
Sis, stir up the gifts that are within you. Pray. Believe, keep on believing, and hold up your Light. Stand with your brethren and shine! Shine, sweating along the way because there are instances where you may feel a little “scared-cited.” Shine, even though you might stammer a little bit. Shine, though you don’t fully see the way. Shine in the confidence that the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment when you need them. Shine, knowing that God is with you. He’s gone before you and He will never leave or forsake you.
Look within. What things has God placed in your heart to do so you can shine His light? Do it to the glory of God.
The world is broken. It is shattering before our very eyes and if you don’t believe me, just get an overview of the happenings around the world. The systems in place, the status quo, the same-old, same-old aren't working. But even though they're not working, even though the numbers of people engaging in self-harm (in the form of prescription drug abuse, alcohol abuse, suicide, etc.) are increasing, we – the ones who can help – aren’t shining as brightly as we could.
And these systems of sin are trying to dig in deeper. And they do it in the name of God. The supporters of oppression call themselves Christians but have no true love and they definitely haven’t experienced the power of God in their lives.
Unbelievers are blaspheming God because of them. We need to be louder. And that means pick up your light, turn it up, hold it higher, come alongside someone, and help them shine their light...by any means necessary, Amen?
Because we are needed! We hold the answer to the tragic hurt, pain, hate, lies, anger, assaults, and murder. YOU are needed, Sis!
People need and want to hear what we have to say. The world needs the true people of God to stop hiding their light. Spread the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts. Let your light shine. Do good works. To the glory of God, not for your own glory. Shine, brighter and brighter, even when persecution comes and we know it will come. It may even be that some enemies may be those in our own household. But we do not fear because “if God be for us, who can be against us?” Pray for them and shake the dust off your feet. Keep believing and keep shining.
Let’s shine so bright that men may see our good works, our examples of dealing with conflicts, showing love, with kindness, grace, and care, and giving glory to God.
Get lit! Shine! Because the spark to turn the world upside down only take a few. It started with the 12 and has grown to billions. It only takes a few. A few who are obedient and who go ye therefore with the message of love, of healing, of community.
It’s only the transforming love of Christ by faith that truly heals. Christ, The Light, heals our separation from God and heals our divisions dues to the sin of the flesh. Christ also heals our antagonistic relationships with one another.
Christ is the One who said that He is the “Light of the World” and that “anyone who follows [Him] will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” His word is the truth!
The more people see the Light, believe in the truth, and receive life, the less we will grieve over the sin we do to one another.
How’s your shine, Beloved? God has placed us here for such a time as this. He’s given the assignment. Let’s shine together.
About the Author:
Melissa Gardner is a Minister, Life Coach, Speaker and Liberation Artist. She partners with women and business owners to empower them with tailored and revenue-generating mindset, marketing and money strategies for life and business. Learn more at melissagardnermarketing.com.