Wherever you can,
Whenever you can,
However you can,
Forgiving those who
have wronged you.
Respecting those who
disagree with you.
Listening to those who
live with pain and suffering.
Giving to those in need.
Thanking those who have blessed you.
Loving those who may not deserve it.
Shine, Christian, Shine.
Go Be Light!
-Lee Carlson, 2016
This poem was written by my grandpa last year and is a prayer which closely parallels John 8:12
However, what I question is why do Christians only speak of these words? To put it plainly, I do not believe there are many Christians who actually want to, or are actually willing to follow every action necessary for God’s light to shine. One may thank, forgive and listen; but if they are unwilling to respect, then it is that of a blanket over a lamp, dimming its rays. If all Christians who follow Christ, walk in the “light of life” as John 8:12 states, why reduce the light through judgment and discrimination? For many, this is not the first time hearing this, either. And by no means am I a perfect beacon of light, but I believe this is something Christians never fully take into account.
Christians cannot simultaneously be thankful for their blessings while selfishly hoarding the very blessings they were thankful for. No. Christians are called to use what God has given them to better serve the poor, the outcasts, the refugee. This gives light to whoever is in need. Shine by the giving of your thanksgivings.
Likewise, Christians cannot love thy neighbor, while disrespecting thy neighbor who has differing beliefs. No. Love calls for respect. Many feel strongly that it is their calling as Christians to point out other people’s wrongdoings. They do this so that the other can be directed towards the “correct” way of living which is done through Christ. While I do believe the Christian lifestyle is the ideal, we must be careful.
If you meet a Muslim, how would you approach him or her? Would you go straight to scripture and call out all of his or her faults? I truly do not believe this is the correct way to approach this type of situation. Call me soft on discipleship, but I believe Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book “The Cost of Discipleship” puts it in an excellent way. He urges Christians to turn more to “the particular in each person.” From here, ministry can really begin, because respect has been built. Judgment has not been established. Understanding and respecting that people’s beliefs do not just change with the words spoken from the Bible is extremely important for discipleship. A certain type of trust must be established first. What is going to make a better impression on a non-Christian, pointing out faults that they have probably already heard before, or actually acting as if the light of Christ is living within you?
So wherever, whenever and however, you can, be light. And let your actions do the talking.