I spoke a message today in student chapel on contrast and I was a little rushed since student chapel doesn't have a lot of time and we always have tons of announcements. I still really enjoyed talking about it even if I wasn't able to be as clear or as thorough as I would have liked.
We see contrast all around. Simple things like hot and cold, dirty and clean, and old and new. The contrast of light and darkness is a biblical contrast since it refers to our life as believers in a crooked and perverse generation (Phil 2:15). We live in a dark world and as Christians we are to be in sharp contrast to the world in which we live. We are not to separate ourselves from the world nor to blend with the world. Both of these would eliminate the contrast. One by isolating the light and the other by extinguishing it.
My problem is that I let the world in and the thinking of the world begins to dim my light. So i am not shining but merely glowing or worse I am blending with the world all together. I would prefer it not to be this way but the world is a strong force to someone who is not correct in his view of shining.
I would argue that our shining is not an end or a means but rather a result. It is a result of a deep relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. E M Bounds in his book Essentials of Prayer put it better than I can:
“The flower and fruit of a holy life, abounding in good works, must be seen. It cannot be otherwise. But the surface growth must be based on a vigorous growth of unseen life and hidden roots. Deep down in the renewed nature must the roots of religion go which is seen on the outside. The external must have a deep internal groundwork. There must be much of the invisible and the underground growth, or else the life will be feeble and short-lived and the external growth sickly and fruitless.
He goes on to say,
“…Activity is often at the expense of more solid, useful elements, and generally to the total neglect of prayer. To be too busy with God’s work to commune with God, to be busy with doing Church work without taking time to talk to God about His work, is the highway to backsliding, and many people have walked therein to the hurt of their immortal souls.
Notwithstanding great activity, great enthusiasm, and much hurrah for the work, the work and the activity will be but blindness without the cultivation and the maturity of the graces of prayer.”
I often think that serving Christ is the end but just serving Christ is no good without a deep relationship with him. It is from this relationship that we are able to shine forth.