Of course, like you, I never fail to be charmed watching a children's choir of little angels singing "This little light of mine - I'm gonna let it shine!" Aren't they adorable?! Please don't get in my way, though, when I'm jockeying for position to get a picture of my little darling in her big moment! I might knock you down or, at least, push you out of the way. You understand, right?! A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do! Surely, you don't expect ME to "let my little light shine"?!
When I take a serious look at what Jesus was saying in this often quoted, too often ignored, verse in Scripture, I discover it follows the amazing teaching of Jesus that we call 'The Beatitudes'. Tough stuff to live up to for most of us. Right before He speaks these words to us, He tells us bluntly "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets before you." Matthew 5: 11,12
There He goes again, ruining the moment! I just want to skip that whole part and land on the harmless and sugary sweet sentiment of my little light shining! But He brings it into focus. He's asking for a willingness to be drastically different than the culture around us. He's asking for a willingness to be bold about being identified with Him. He's asking us to choose Him at the risk of being made fun of, ridiculed, even persecuted because of our relationship to Him. Oh. That's a different story! There He is again. Jesus being Jesus! He's just so all about that cross thing!
I don't know about you, but, I'm not into persecution! Or even ridicule for that matter! I'll take a pass, OK? I'll just try to melt into the culture, shop 'til I drop, revel in my "stuff" (that's what Americans do, right?) and avoid anything that smacks of a sacrifice in my life. After all, having all this stuff is clear evidence that God loves me! He's blessing me, because He loves me! But, what was that about "Blessed are you when they persecute you..."? How could that be a blessing? Could Jesus have been wrong on this one?!
In America, we have a very hard time wrapping our minds around what the 'blessing of persecution' really means. We don't like to look at the pictures of victims of torture and martyrdom of so many followers of Christ around the world. It makes us uncomfortable. It rocks our boat. And, you know, I, personally just don't have time to think about that stuff. I have a million things to do! I'm getting ready for Christmas!
We have to ask ourselves, why is the church in America stagnant? It's uncomfortable to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, who are we serving, really? Is it Jesus who calls us to a radical identification with Him, even to the point of strong opposition and sacrifice? Or are we rejoicing in the "blessings" of a materialistic, self-serving culture? Like the old "To Tell The Truth" t.v. program, I think we have some impostors in the room! Will the REAL BLESSING please stand up?!
Something tells me we are like the frog kissing the cook and thanking him for putting him in that pot of nice warm water. He's relishing his swim. Until, too late, he realizes he's being cooked for dinner...
Scripture Reference: Matthew 5: 14-16
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."