Shut Up & Let Your Light Shine

“Christians are hard to tolerate, I don’t know how Jesus does it…I’m one of them.”
Bono, of the rock band U2

My cousin Kathy is one of the most joyful people I’ve ever met. Her smile lights up a room, and her laugh is contagious. She’s just one month younger than me, so she’s really more like a sister than a cousin. She hugs, giggles and encourages.

When talking with Kathy, the conversations flow like a gentle, spring breeze, because she just lets her light shine, a trait she’s passed on to her daughter and grandchildren.

I have a “Facebook friend”—so dubbed because I’ve never met him in person—named Brian. He’s actually a friend to my whole family, and talks just as much to my kids as he does to me. Brian and I have been friends for years, and have talked on the phone and by Instant Message many times. He is a huge fan of death metal, and attends concerts every time he gets the chance. I’m sure some think he’s a bit rough around the edges, but he loves Jesus, man. He used to be strung out, but is now clean and sober. He’s just trying to follow Christ, and is content with the fact that his walk of faith may not look much like yours.

Maybe he doesn’t fit some people’s view of the “ideal Christian,” but God loves Brian, and the feeling is mutual. He doesn’t pretend to be like you, he just lives.

He lets his light shine.

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A co-worker and good friend, Nelda, loves Harry Potter (my family are huge fans as well). Before going any further, it should be stated that ours is not just a Christian, but specifically, a Pentecostal university, and she works with graduate-level Bible & Theology students.

Like Kathy, she has an infectious smile, and is quick to go out of her way to offer assistance to those in need.

Besides Harry Potter, something else her family and mine have in common is a love of fantasy. Her and her husband even dress up as characters for Harry Potter parties at the local Barnes & Noble. Now, to some followers of Christ, that’s borderline blasphemy, but her faith isn’t shaken by fictional stories and characters.

Some judge and say, “One can’t be a Christian if they…” and then fill in the blank: listen to “secular” music, curse, celebrate Halloween, smoke, drink, whatever.

I hate when people say that. To me, this is akin to one grain of sand on the entire California coast line trying to judge the ocean based on its minuscule line of sight.

Many of my closest friends in the faith are a little off the beaten path, which I love.

Yes, I’m a Christian, but my son and I recently watched a marathon of “Halloween” movies, and are attending the newest installment, simply called Halloween, with my mom this weekend.

At this point I should mention, my dad’s a deacon of the church.

She also attended concerts by Lynyrd Skynyrd and KISS with us.

You see, our faith is not swayed by entertainment, or the opinions of naysayers. We love Jesus, man. We follow Him.

We let our light shine.

It’s perfectly fine if you disagree with me. Disagreement doesn’t make you right, anymore that it makes me wrong; it just means we’re on our own path, working our faith out the best we know how.

I’m seeing more and more Christians on Facebook, however, judging others based on their own interpretation of scripture or, worse yet, their personal likes and dislikes.

Peter was a Disciple, and yet, in a moment of terror, he turned his back on Christ and cursed. Did that mean he wasn’t a true follower?

No, it means he was human.

Granted, there are certain things the Bible CLEARLY state are wrong.

For all scripture given by the inspiration of God is profitable to teach, to convict, to reform, and to instruct in righteousness. (2nd Timothy 3:16 NMB)”

Those aren’t the things to which I refer. I’m talking about things like music, movies, clothing styles, etc. I personally know people who left the church because they felt as if the parishioners were too overbearing in their own personal convictions.

For crying out loud, just shut up and let your light shine!

The sad fact is I’m seeing more and more Pharisitical Christians. These are people who feel the need to tell everyone else how wrong they are instead of simply loving others.

Yeah, some of us need to just shut up and let our light shine.

For those who don’t know, please allow me to explain what I mean by “Pharisitical.” Back in Jesus’ day, the Pharisees were the ones who judged Jesus based on appearances:

“Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. ‘What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?’

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, ‘Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: “I’m after mercy, not religion.” I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.’ (Matthew 9:10-13 MSG)”

They didn’t see His LIGHT; they judged Him solely on something He was doing which they didn’t agree with.

I recently shared a story about my son, Trey, and I praying for a lady at a Judas Priest concert. I know some would have a problem with this, thinking we never should’ve been in such a “den of iniquity” in the first place.

Hey, I like Judas Priest. That’s me, and it’s OK if you don’t agree.

But Trey and I had a God moment right there before the show when we prayed for a lady who was experiencing terrible back pain.

We let our light shine.

Now, you must understand, Trey is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. He’ll probably cringe when he sees I called him “sweet,” since he’s a bearded, 19-year-old heavy metal fan and horror movie aficionado.

But it’s true. We both work at the same, aforementioned Christian university, with the likewise aforementioned Nelda, and many co-workers look forward to Trey’s smile and hug each afternoon.  I know it’s hard for some to comprehend a good, Christian man, so giving, loving and caring, attending heavy metal concerts and horror movies, staying up too late on a week night to watch A Nightmare On Elm Street. I get it.

But that’s who we are. We may not fit the“mold” some have for a Christian, and that’s OK. We’re letting our light shine, and following Jesus.

I know there are times we need to “reprove and rebuke,” but people who had no concept of God were DRAWN to Christ because of His spirit and light, not because He ran around telling everyone how WRONG they were.

My friends and family are different, and that’s alright. Variety is a beautiful thing.

I think we can all learn a lesson from one of my favorite 90s Christian metal bands, Detritus, who sang the following in their song “So Far Away”…

Don’t follow me, follow the one I follow
Don’t look to me, look to the one I look to
Don’t turn away, because of the believers
The true one is the Christ, and not the Christians

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Shut Up & Let Your Light Shine

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