Ephesians 5: 8-9, "You are people of the light because you belong to the Lord. So act like people of the light and make your light shine. Be good and honest and truthful."
God living and working in you should shine brightly to a hurting, dying world. God living and working in your church should illuminate His love, compassion, and acceptance to those in your community. Just as a moth is instinctively attracted to a porch light on a warm summer night, others who don’t know Jesus will be attracted to you if you’re brightly shining God’s light.
I think from time to time, it's important to examine the light we are shining- to make sure we are representing Christ through our actions and attitudes. Unfortunately, there are some leaders and churches who fail to shine God's light and instead shine a spotlight on themselves. Beware of these types of leaders and churches:
Self-Illuminating Leaders- Some leaders shine a false light of pride and boastfulness. At first glance they seem genuine and true, but when you get close, they’re kind of like those bug zappers from the 1980’s. After it’s too late, you realize that they’re only drawing you close to use you and boost their own ego and pride. They usually leave a trail of used up, hurt and broken people in their wake.
Self-illuminating Churches- This same warning goes for churches. There are plenty of churches who seem to be shining brightly and attracting new people, but when you get close and scratch the surface, you uncover faulty motivations. In their efforts to be attractional, they’ve gotten off course and are consumed with building their own church instead of building the kingdom and pointing people toward Christ. Their light has become an attempt to illuminate themselves and the great things they are doing, While this is initially attractional and impressive to unbelievers, it doesn’t point people to the Savior, it points people to an institution.
Past-Illuminating Churches- Some churches shine a bright light on their history and heritage. When questioned about the present or future, they spotlight everything they’ve done in the past – not who they are in Christ. By focusing on the past, they run the danger of extinguishing their light in the future.
So, what does it look like to be a leader who shines God's light?
You realize the source of your light is God. Everything that happens, everything you are, everything you accomplish all comes from Him. You understand it’s a blessing and an honor to be used by Him because the truth is He doesn’t even need any of us to accomplish His work.
You’re not jealous of the way God’s light is displayed in others. Just as God has equipped each of us with unique gifts and abilities, His light shining in you looks different than the way it shines in others. Appreciate the way God uses others, don't compare and compete.
You seek wisdom and guidance from God in every situation. Ask God to guide your correspondence and communication. Illicit the Holy Spirit to take control when someone asks you for advice so the words you say aren’t simply your opinion or feeling, but they have been inspired by God’s truth.
You are confident in your calling. When God has called you to ministry, you don’t need or seek the approval of others to reaffirm your purpose or the impact you are having in the world. Revisit the moment you were called and take confidence in the fact that God has equipped you to do what He's called you to.
You turn compliments into praise. Leaders who shine God’s light effectively will naturally receive compliments about the way God is working in their lives. Instead of turning those compliments into fuel for pride, use it as an opportunity to verbally or silently send that praise to God- thanking Him for the opportunity to be used by Him.
What about your church? Is your church shining God's light? A church that shines His light will have the following characteristics:
Its members and attenders are leaders and influencers in the community. If the people in your church aren’t influential in the community, you won’t have the opportunity to introduce unbelievers to God’s light. This means that people from your church hang out with people who need Christ – that your church isn't a Holy Saints Club for exclusive members.
It is so focused on the mission of sharing Jesus’ light and love that trivial matters fade away. A church that shines true light isn’t going to spend valuable ministry time and energy arguing about the color of the carpet, the name of a classroom, or whether or not tape is allowed on the wall in the sanctuary. They are guided by the question- is this going to bring people to Christ? Personal preferences fade in the urgency of fulfilling their call to ministry.
It isn’t afraid to engage culture and teach tough truth in a way that is winsome to unbelievers. Some churches forsake solid Biblical teaching because of the pressure to be unoffensive. Others teach God’s truth in a judgmental, heavy-handed way that is filled with judgment and condemnation. The Gospel is offensive to unbelievers because it points out their sin and short-comings, but it’s a message that’s crucial for our eternal destiny. A church that shines God's light believes that the Gospel is offensive, but nothing else should be. The way in which the gospel and tough truths are taught should be as unoffensive as possible so the message of God's truth illuminates the sin. A church shining God’s light teaches truth with compassion, love, and mercy.
Jesus living in you should be a floodlight for those who are walking through darkness. You should shine the light of God's goodness so brightly that the darkness around you fades and others are drawn to His light in you.