Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent: Our lampstand

I am often reminded of the comment made by Gandhi that is often quoted at Christians by those who disagree with them.

I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. The materialism of affluent Christian countries appears to contradict the claims of Jesus Christ that says it's not possible to worship both Mammon and God at the same time.1

Often this is thrown into the face of someone when the other wants them to realize how hypocritical Christians are. I have to agree. Many of us, myself included, often do not live up to the person that Christ wants us to be. In fact, in my own case, I fall very far short of the mark. Our goal in life should be to be transparent. What do I mean by that? The bible tells us that we are "the light of the world. A city 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 men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."2

If we are the light of the world we must think of ourselves in terms of that light. In fact, we should consider the light bulb. The light bulb is a simple device, in which you have a light source inside and clear glass outside. The power sources comes in and illuminates the interior, and then the light shines out through the glass. If the glass were opaque, the light would be changed. If it were dark, it would be darkened. If the outside were made of rock, we'd never see the light.

The same is true about us, that is what I mean by being transparent. We are told by John that the "The true light that gives light to everyone"3 was Jesus Christ. In order for us to be true lights, we must share our light to the world.  By allowing our lives to reflect Christ we become transparent like glass. Sometimes we harden our hearts, like rock; at these points the light is trying to shine but we hide it. Other times we let ourselves get in the way. We hear God calling us to do something but we try to change it; we interfere with the light. The light still shines through, but it's being blocked by our opaqueness. When we truly let go and let God, we become transparent and the world will not see us at all.. just the light.

As Gandhi's quote reminds us Jesus said we cannot serve God and Mammon. During this Advent as we prepare for Christmas let us spend more time at the altar of God, emphasizing the true meaning of Christmas. All too often we turn it into a commercial nightmare, seeing who can get the most gifts, decorate the most lights, have the biggest tree. Let us instead let our light shine in every action, including our Christmas celebrations. Do not "light a lamp and put it under a bowl."4  Instead allow God to light your lamp and allow Him to shine through to the world.

In Christ,

1 Attributed to Gandhi by William Rees-Mogg in The Times [London] (4 April 2005)
2 Mathew 5:14-16
3 John 1:9
4 Mathew 5:15