Do you share my frustration with Christmas lights? Every December, I pull out strings of lights and hope that they will work. Sometimes the whole string lights up. Sometimes a couple of sections light up. Sometimes the whole string is dark. I have spare bulbs, and I try to make repairs, but usually I do not succeed.
More often than not, I realize that I have strings of bulbs, rather than strings of lights, and I drive to the store and get some actual, functioning lights. The old strings go in the bag of old strings, or perhaps out to the recycling pile in the shed.
Sometimes we put a whole string of lights on the Christmas tree, load the tree with ornaments, turn it on and the string stops working, or only one section works. We’ve also seen this happen with lights around windows and eaves outside our house. It’s very frustrating. The strings of dead bulbs make the tree or home look less attractive. They are an annoyance rather than an inspiration.
Do you every share my frustration with Christians? We are the ones who have received the Light and who are to be lights in the world, but we are often burned out, unable to shine, or only shining in part, but not as a whole.
If we are shiny, the Father is glorified. If we are not shiny, and yet we are asking others to join us, we are like a broken string of Christmas lights, and we make the kingdom of heaven less attractive than it would be without us.
Christ says to us,
Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
We can interact with Jesus and learn from Him and increasingly reflect His light. We can practice the doing things that He said to practice. We can bless people who curse us, stop cultivating lusts, and do good to those around us. This is the life of Christ, replacing our selfishness with something so unusual that it shines brightly in a broken, consuming, never satisfied world.
For a great study on this problem and its remedy, see Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart. See also The Divine Conspiracy chapter 5 on Salvation Confusion.