Shady character

shaded light

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem. Okay.

I’m obsessed with turning off lights. Around our office and our house if a light is on that shouldn’t be I turn it off, admittedly with a bit of an attitude. There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than light that’s wasted.

Most often, when we talk of light, we are referring to light that’s visible … hence, its visibility is an important aspect of light. So, light needs to be visible, but it should not be wasted … that is, visible without a benefit or purpose.

Jesus talked about the importance of our “light” in similar terms. Reading through Luke 10 – 13 this week, I came across this principle in Luke 11:33-36.

“No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”

It’s interesting to note that Jesus uses light in this passage to refer to our spiritual radiance, the degree to which we illuminate others around us. Like light removes darkness fully, our spiritual impact, the luminance we provide to people in our life can remove the darkness and emptiness.

We have to remember, however, that light has a source outside itself. In the same way, we cannot shine our light if we don’t have a source of that light. The first concern we have, then, is whether we have the proper source for light to exist. Without that source, we cannot have the full and reliable result of light that can illuminate an entire house. I like how Jesus uses our eye as an example of the means by which we derive the source of light.   It’s as though He’s reminding us that what (or Who) we look to for our source will determine whether or not the light within us is truly light or really darkness. After all, the only way we can shine forth light is to have light in us to begin with. If we look to an old, worn out 400-lumen (a typical 40-watt bulb) source, we’ll have very little brilliance shining out from us. If we instead choose the brightest source we can understand, the sun (powered of course by the Son), we can derive the equivalent of 3.4 billion lumens per square meter, or something 400,000 times as bright as the full moon.

Okay, so why the abstractions? You should be used to that from me by now. 😎

Basically, the point is this. Our brightness, our illumination, the spiritual brilliance we can pass to others is inherently limited to the source we choose. Choose Jesus, and our potential brilliance is unlimited. Choose anything less, and not only is it limited, but it’s probably darkness that we just haven’t admitted is darkness.

But to wrap up this point, even with Jesus as our Source of light, if we don’t allow that Light to shine forth freely from us, we are wasting that Light … and I’ve already mentioned my antipathy to wasted light. How is it that we waste our Light? By covering it with a shade, of course. What does that mean, practically-speaking? Glad you asked.

Think of Jesus as the infinite Source of our light, which manifests itself through us not in a singular bulb, but perhaps in a multi-bulb golden chandelier. When left uncovered, our light Source can shine through us brilliantly. But what if we choose to cover up one or more of those lights? It means that something that would otherwise receive our light will be starved of it.   Sure, some lights will be effective in illuminating, but not all.

What does this mean in real-life terms?

If you have not chosen Jesus as your true Source of light, you will never shine brilliantly. The light you do shine will forever be dim and incapable of full illumination. If this is you, change the light source, and ask Jesus to be the Source of the light in your life.

If He is already your real Source, then we need to ask ourselves which lights in our lives are covered with a shade. Where is your true potential character being shaded … where is your shady character? For me, it’s typically manifested in the inconsistency with which I look to share His light. That is, certain people get my unshaded light, some people get the shaded version.   Maybe it’s that we prefer to let our light shine unrestricted to most people, but Muslims, or homosexuals, or homeless people or whoever doesn’t get to enjoy the potential warmth of our full Light. Maybe you shade your light at work because it wouldn’t be comfortable for your coworkers to know you’re a Christian. Or maybe it’s that at home you tow the line with your family, but your friends at school would think you’re a freak with all the Jesus stuff. Perhaps it’s situational, as it can be for me during my long drive to and from work … after all, I’ll not likely see those people on the freeway again, and besides given how they drive, they sort of deserve it (kidding).

No matter what the specific shade is that we put on our light, it results in wasted light, in shady character shared with those around us. And we need to remember that light can’t shade itself.   The shade has to be placed there by someone … us.

Let’s commit this week to go to God in prayer and ask Him to reveal to us which shades we’ve placed on our lights. Let’s ask Him where our full potential spiritual illumination is being hampered by our shades. Let’s ask Him, most importantly, to help us remove those shades so the fullness of our light, from the infinite Source of that light, can shine to the benefit of all around us.




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