...let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 16
We have heard words like Matthew 5:16 for the duration of our Annual Appeal for Stewardship which ends (officially, though much is left to do) on Sunday. And we have discussed, probably not nearly enough, what it means for us to be “the light of the world.” The final part of Matthew 5:14-16, highlighted above, goes a bit further; shining our light before others is one way, a powerful way, that we glorify the God of our lives.
I am always mindful that, no matter the season or time of year, there are many, many people in our area, let the alone the wide world, who are in need. We think of people being in need as those who live in poverty, are homeless, and who are sick, elderly, etc. But there are many among us who are dealing with truly incredible challenges in their lives of which being poor or sick is only part of a life full of challenges. We often do not know, and perhaps do not think to ask (maybe we really don’t want to know), what the person who sits beside us or behind us might be going through. Maybe we wonder why we haven’t seen someone in church for a while?
Shining our light before others in the way of good deeds is not just feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, or creating a new program in our faith community (though all of those things are things we do and God sees them as very good). Listening for the (often silent) sound of the real emotional or spiritual pain of the people we come across is part of shining our Christ-light in the world. Listening to the pain of others is one of the easiest and yet hardest things that we can do as followers of Jesus. When we hear (and truly see) the pain of another human and don’t look away (it isn’t always easy, you see), then we can lean into their pain and maybe take some of it on to ourselves. We cannot fix every hurt in the world but we are called to take each other on and to glorify God by shining our light into the dark corners of the world; to be brave enough to shoulder each other’s pain. Perhaps, if we are willing to shine our light for others, healing may become possible for that person our midst and, just maybe, in our own lives, too.