By Rev. Dr. Linda Hollies
When Ben Franklin first proposed his idea of street lights to the Philadelphia City Council, the idea was voted down as ludicrous. Rather than being discouraged, he decided to install a lantern on the street near his house. Others liked walking in the warm glow by his home and decided to place lanterns close to their homes as well. Before long, the streets of Philadelphia were lit with Franklin’s idea. Whatever it is that you would like others to do, begin yourself. If you’ve tried and failed, forgive yourself and try again. One person can make a difference. And that one person can be you. When we are living like a Christian, that one person WILL be you!
One of my email buddies sent me this as a thought to ponder, and I felt it deserved a wider audience. For it helps me to see how important it is to do what I can, when I can, for who I can, where I can. Ben didn’t got all over town, getting in trouble, trying to convince others of what "they needed" to do! Instead, he placed his idea outside of his own house. His taking the time, planting a seed of "possibility" and allowing others to "see for themselves" got his idea to spread without any additional words or work from him! Just letting our light shine will do an effective job at dispelling evil and spreading goodness.
Iyalana Vanzant, in her book, In The Mean Time, placed a sentence that has made a huge impact upon my Christian living. She said, "’The only purpose for a light is to shine!" This simple statement as allowed me to understand why I’m often in the midst of situations where I’m standing alone. Her reasoning has given me assurance that it’s alright if I’m not politically correct, or always part of the "in-crowd". This one simple line of thought made me aware that my reason for being, my purpose for living and my job in the Realm of God is to spread light! Too many people like the dark! So, I’m thankful that Sister-Girl’s statement turned on a light in my spirit! Being a light is a great purpose!
Many folks want to do evil in unlit places. Many sources of danger lurk where there is no light. But, light dispels the cover of evil, of ignorance and of "night vision"! For things are often unclear at night. They can appear as murky, as distorted and as out of focus when there is no light to provide vision and perception. But, Christians are called to be Lights in the world! Ben Franklin’s simply putting one light into a previously dark space, began a revolution around the world. For the only reason for a light is to shine!
"Love must be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor." (Romans 12: 9-10) Talk about being a light, Paul is demanding that we become "shining lights"! On a billboard that I passed driving home, I saw the statement and question: "Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?" A loving attitude is worth catching and worth passing alone. The question caught me off guard. The question brought me into "check" and made me think about what I had been "passing" around recently! For my attitude, whatever it might have been, is contagious. Others will "catch" it and then, reflect it back to me. So, God knows that I want to be a shining light. Notice that I said, I want to be….for surely, I’m not always! I’m thankful to know that I’m a work in process!
Paul is writing to people who know how to be politically correct. Paul is writing to folks who also know how to "play" religious. Paul is writing to Church people, Temple attenders about how a life that is consecrated to God needs to look. And, he is right on point that when we live God’s way, we will make a permanent, positive impact all around us. When we consecrate our lives to God; when we make a willing decision to live according to the way, the will and the walk of Jesus Christ, we stand out, become set apart and look different to those who are on a different journey. Living a Christian life demands that we become genuine, authentic and real. The days of being "The Great Pretender" are over when we are serious about living like Jesus on this side of The Resurrection!
The power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to each one of us who asks. The same power that allowed Jesus to walk the streets of hell and to bring back souls who walked the street of Jerusalem with him is now ours. the same power that allowed Jesus to appear in a closed, locked room and speak, "Shalom /Peace/ God’s Best be yours" now belongs to us! This is the Holy Spirit. This is the power of God at work in the world and within born-again Christians today. This is the power, the dynamite, explosive energy that makes us to shine, to be illuminated and to make a difference where ever we go! Ben’s light did not move up and down the streets. Ben’s light did not talk a good game. Ben’s light did not make efforts to convince others of their need to have a light in their yard. Ben’s light just stood still and did it’s job of shining!
I’m so thankful that there is no spot where we cannot shine! I’m go glad that the Holy Spirit is ever present to cause me a glow that nothing can put out! I’m so thankful that I don’t need outside stimulants to make me shine; neither do I need to learn a new set of rules, regulations or guidelines. All I need to do is to allow The Holy Spirit to lead me, to guide me, to help me to understand the scriptures that I read; to meditate upon the goodness of God; to assist me in my walking the talk of Christianity and to keep my interior fires stoked so that my light remains lite.
This week, let’s talk less and shine more! This week, let’s go into some places where we know that people are wanting it to be dark, murky and invisible and just SHINE! Love folks to light! Be so kind to someone until they have to acknowledge your light. Take in donuts to mean co-workers. Do six nice things to your mean spouse, or teammate. Smile more and confuse folks around you. But, whatever you choose to do for God this week, just remember that you are standing there being Light! Shine On!
On the journey with you, shining as brightly as possible in this Season, Shalom! Sista Linda On the journey with ya!
Let’s live holy; laugh often; and let’s love with flair and with extravagance!
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