05 May Light YOUR World
Kids say the darndest things, according to an old saying. Did you know that from 1945-1969, Art Linkletter hosted a radio show called “House Party” and a television series, “Art Linkletter’s House Party,” in which he regularly featured a segment entitled, “Kids Say the Darndest Things”? Children, usually ages 3-8, were the stars of the segment, as they answered questions in ways that only children can.
We had an Art Linkletter moment in church last Sunday. I love doing the “Children’s Sermon” during worship each week. For starters, I adore the children who are part of my church. They are fun, funny and smart, so planning ways to interact with them and engage them about a Bible story or a theme we are talking about in worship is something I enjoy and look forward to.
A week ago I talked to them about Jesus’ statement that his followers are to be the salt of the earth. I sprinkled some salt in a cup for each child and we all had a good salty lick. I discovered that one of my church kids likes to put salt on his pizza. I can’t believe I’ve never thought to try that—an oversight I will remedy right away!
This past Sunday I lit a candle and asked what it means for us to be the “light of the world,” in Jesus’ words. Jesus goes on in the Sermon on the Mount to say that we aren’t to put our light “under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand [where] it gives light to all in the house.” I had a basket with me, so as I tried to carefully cover up the candle without setting us on fire, I asked what the kids thought Jesus was telling us. One of the children asked a thought-provoking question: what if the basket has holes in it (as mine did)? Wouldn’t the light still get through?
Out of the mouths of babes……
I think that first grader hit on something really important. Lights that shine unimpeded are the most powerful and useful. They do the most good, and that is equally true for an actual candle or lantern as it is true, metaphorically, for us as Jesus’ followers. We have the most impact for good when God’s love, mercy and peace shine through us without filters. For instance, when we serve others without an agenda, without doing it to make ourselves feel better, without expecting anything in return, that is when we are closest to loving and serving like Jesus did. That’s when Christ’s light blazes through us “giving light to all in the house.”
The trouble is that our selfish motives and the desire to control or have our own way is seldom far away. The light of Christ is lit in us, but it is often partially obscured by attitudes, speech or actions that don’t rightly reflect the love of Christ. It’s like a basket with holes has been placed over us: some light is still visible, but it is dimmer and illumines less of the house than it might otherwise.
Thankfully, we don’t have to be perfect or “Super Christians” to be useful to the Kingdom of God. Still, I want to be as useful as possible, and the way to greater light is to yield to the Spirit of God who is shaping me into the kind of person who is pure in heart, a peacemaker, humble and all the other characteristics Jesus talks about in the Beatitudes. In other words, when our hearts are right, God’s light will inevitably shine.
Yours for the Kingdom,