Have you ever wondered how you can tell that a person is a Christian? Or how about your own life, how can someone looking at your life identify you as a Christian? Would it be obvious from an outsider looking in? Would your family be able to give evidence of your faith if asked? What exactly about you, other than your testimony, sends a message to everyone around you that you are a Christian?
Given the extreme actions of some radical Christians, many decide that it is better to keep their faith private and not share it with the world. But that is not the life Jesus called us to as He said in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” A light in a room of darkness definitely stands out as being different from its surroundings. So, we are called to be a light and share our faith but is your life really like a light?
Later in the same message, Jesus explains that you can tell the difference between someone who is representing God and someone who is not by the fruit in their life. In Matthew 7:20, He states, “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” So, if our actions are what signals to the world that we are a Christian, then it is our actions that create the light in the world of darkness. Yet, this is further misunderstood to looking “perfect”, as if somehow if there is a problem, struggle, trauma, trouble, or difficulty that means you are not really a Christian. This “perfect” life or “perfect” people doctrine is false.
Instead Jesus was reinforcing a passage from Jeremiah 17:7-8. “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
So being a light in the darkness is not about being “perfect”, rather it is about being unwavering in your beliefs like a tree deeply rooted. It is about knowing that the source of your strength comes from God. It is about living a life that knows and expects extreme difficulties. Note that the passage in Jeremiah speaks about heat and drought, these are extreme weather conditions which can destroy a tree, not some mild bump in the road. A life that reflects God’s glory will have extreme difficulties, yet it will continue to produce fruit.
The bottom line is as a Christian you should expect to have extreme difficulties in your life. Perhaps you have a child who is an addict, financial problems leading to bankruptcy, cancer, a marriage on the rocks, or the death of a loved one, whatever your difficulty, as a Christian, you can either choose to reflect the source of your strength as coming from God or you can wallow yourself in a pit of worry. If you reflect God during these times of difficulty, then you will truly be the light that shines in the darkness.
This is precisely why James says in his book 1:2, “Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” Your ability to reflect God’s strength in times of trouble are opportunities of great joy not only for yourself but for all who can now see because of the light you are reflecting to a room full of darkness.