Having just moved to the great state of Texas, I can already attest to the existence of a variety of critters and pests around the area. Our very first night in our house, we were introduced to the tree roach, or what some here call water bugs. All I know is that they’re huge and even though harmless, I can assure you they harm the heck out of me. With fear. I knew once we moved here I would need to get accustomed to bugs and assorted other critters but I’m not quite sure I was ready just yet.
Other than run away, of course, there are a variety of ways to deal with household pests like bugs. While it’s never been my strong suit, fortunately there are common products that we can use to eradicate the unwanted creepy crawlies. One product that made an impression on me as a kid was Raid. It’s nothing major, just a common insecticide spray. The reason it had made a mark on me is that there were some funny, cartoon-ized commercials that played often when I was a kid. I’ve mentioned before, but my childhood was pretty-well shaped by tv. So this shouldn’t be a surprise. 😎
Raid’s function? Well, you pretty much aim and shoot. The spray contains chemicals that repel or kill pests on contact. Catch that? When it makes contact, it repels the target it hits. It may even kill it. A lot of times, the spray just makes the critters scatter … it doesn’t even need to hit them.
I have to say, this principle really strikes me as it relates to my faith. That is, my faith’s impact on others. When people come in contact with me, what is the impact? Do I repel others or even kill the faith or potential faith of others by my behaviors? Or maybe by made up preferences or rules? Perhaps by my insistence about the things of God being a particular way? Worst of all, in the extreme, how many people won’t know Jesus because of me?
My point is not self-flagellation. It’s mutual encouragement. How? Glad you asked!
Interestingly enough, it’s pretty common knowledge that bugs are attracted to light. Matthew 5:14-16…
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
You don’t have to live in Texas too long in the summertime, or many other places in the US to be honest, to note that bugs are for the most part attracted to light. Watch a baseball game closely enough and take a look at the stadium lights and you’re bound to see moths and assorted other critters flying around and even hitting in flight against the lights.
In a way, light – or at least the right kind of light – attracts people as well. The kind of light that attracts is the light Jesus described to His listeners of the Sermon on the Mount. The type of light that can signify the absence of danger that can be brought on by darkness. The type of light that can also connote warmth. This is the type of light that Jesus admonishes us to have, be, and show. Our lights – as they “shine out for all to see” – can be lights of safety, of warmth, of life itself.
But lights shone in the wrong circumstances or in the wrong way can cause repulsion. Certain insects and animals will scurry when lights turn on because of the rapid change from darkness. Ever have a flashlight shone in your eyes in the darkness (if by a police officer, you probably don’t want to answer this question haha)? It’s a radical, overbearing, and difficult contrast that we are near-predisposed to turn away from because of the harsh impact to our eyes.
And so … back to our point … what type of light do we shine? Is it a Raid-type repellant? Is it overbearing and harsh? Is it so strong and sudden that others scurry away to run for cover? If so, then we risk our faith and witness being of the type I mention above, and that I fear might someday be my impact.
Or is our light one of warmth and attraction? Does it illuminate what might otherwise be dangerous or fearsome? Is it a light of safety and security, of life and rejuvenation? Is our light something that draws people in and helps us engage them in a loving, selfless way. That’s the kind of light about which Jesus is speaking in Matthew 5 and it’s the kind of light that will give glory to God and help guide others to a loving relationship with a Savior who longs to commune with them.
As Christians, all too often we spend time sharing with others all the things we’re against. In a sense, that’s okay since there are many injustices in our world, and we as followers of Christ should speak into that. Those are things that ache the heart of God. But so too does a destructive light, a Raid-like repulsion that drives others away from a possible relationship with the Lord, almost as though a relationship with Jesus is some exclusive club that we Christians have a right to oversee membership. God alone determines that membership, and as 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”
Salvation is an exclusive club, but it’s a club that God wants full of as many of his created people as possible. Our responsibility in that is not to repulse, not to destroy the opportunity for others to share in what we have. The lingering questions we should ask ourselves remain, “who will know Jesus because of us,” and “who will not know Jesus because of us.” Are we Raid, or are we warmth and light? What could be more important?
Soli Deo gloria!