In a fairly famous sermon, Jesus says the following: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.” This is in Matthew (5), and Jesus is delivering a sharp elbow to those who like to hide their lights under the bushel.
People are very good at hiding light. In the process of keeping secrets – or tucking away the bad and the painful – we’ve also become incredibly adept at hiding the good: our passions, our gifts, and our good works. One of the great joys of being a pastor is getting to meet people privately, where the #1 thing that happens is: I get to see their light. And when they’re done glowing about what they love and what brings them LIFE, I always say, “You should share that with others.”
Because you know that whole “light under a bushel” thing? Yeah, you shouldn’t do that.
The resistance to sharing our light is understandable. 1. We don’t want to seem arrogant about the gifts and talents we have, and 2. We aren’t sure our light will be respected or treated properly – the whole “casting pearls before swine” bit (Matthew 7). Sometimes we don’t even know what that light is. But Jesus said that YOU are the light of the world. And he seems to think that our responsibility as lights is to share that light, and light darkness all around us. Evangelicals have taken this to mean, “Share the gospel,” and that’s gotten ugly at certain points in history (Crusades, Inquisition, Creolization), but Jesus seems to be saying something different: SHARE YOURSELF. Somewhere deep inside of you is your brightest light, and if you shine it, we will see God. If you don’t know what your LIGHT is yet, begin to share yourself.
This FALL season at UChurch is about Lightwork. Finding gifts and sharing gifts. Creating an environment where you can be your best self and shine brightly for others. Lifting the bushel basket a bit. Because you and this church are both VERY bright lights, and a well-kept secret in too many places.