In Matthew, Chapter 5, we read, beginning with Verse 14, “Ye (meaning Christian people) are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, which is in Heaven.” That is through Verse 16 in Matthew 5.
In last week’s column for The Examiner, I wrote about salt found in Verse 13 of the same chapter of the Bible. Christians are to be salt and light in this world in which we live. Many Christians, I fear, have lost or allowed the salt of their lives to be diluted and are not worth as much as they could be to the lost around them who are looking to them for guidance and help. The same is true for our lights. I shared with my Sunday school class students this past Sunday that many of us have allowed our globes to become dirty and tarnished with the things of this old world.
I can clearly remember my Mama Cole having two kerosene lamps that sat proudly on our mantle in the parlor or front room of the spotless white farm house in which I was reared during the first years of my life in Georgia. I remember that those two lamps were either my grandmother’s mother’s lamps or from someone she considered dear and near to her heart.
Every week or so, Mama Cole, and only Mama Cole, would get those two lamps down, take them ever so carefully into the big country kitchen and put the glass globes down into good, sudsy dishwater and wash them until they gleamed. She would then rinse them carefully and stand them on readied dishtowels until the water had run off of the sides and they were clear, shiny and inviting. She’d take another rag and dust the metal part in the middle and carefully make certain not a particle of dust remained on the bottom of the lamp. No one else in our home was allowed to handle those lamps unless Mama Cole was at work when a sudden storm visited and knocked out our power, and we had to light them to see.
Christian people should keep their lights shining brightly and be on the ready to point others to the source of the light – the Lord Jesus. As examples of this teaching, I took several objects along with me to Sunday school that I gathered from my home. They were all ordinary and easy objects to obtain, but they made lasting impressions on our students if the feedback I have received is accurate thus far. I first held up and opened a large box of old-fashioned kitchen matches. They are rather difficult to find now, but I remembered in this same farmhouse I described, my Mama Cole had some sort of an old metal box that hung on the wall and the cardboard matchbox slipped down into the larger one and the matches fell to the bottom ready for use. There was a strip along the bottom where the match would be drawn across to strike it for lighting.
In my lesson I compared these old sturdy matches to older, dependable Christians who had lived longer lives and had gathered many life experiences. They may look old-fashioned and outdated in some cases, but they were sure fire and very valuable. I struck one or two of these matches and demonstrated the good light that still came from them. After class, one of my students, Thelma, asked me if I knew something else the burned match was used for in the old days. I did not and she told me that young girls who did not have mascara or the money to buy it at the store and wanted to color their brows would save those old matches, dip them into water, and use the match to add darkening to their eyebrows. We learn every day if we are observant.
I also displayed a current book of matches that one might pick up at a restaurant or as a form of advertisement and compared that to other Christians and even new Christians. I showed a small tea light candle and said that the light emitting from its small wick might represent a brand new baby Christian. I showed a much larger candle, with a huge wick, lit that and talked about pastors, teachers, and those who labored to share the Word of God with hungry students. I showed other candles and spoke of missionaries, witnesses, and friends and neighbors attempting to share the Gospel message with those they loved.
Finally, I took out a favorite of mine – an old lighthouse with a huge beam that spread from the glass windows at the top. I compared the lighthouse to a church, a house of worship, a group of believers, all working together to spread the light and who have joined in an effort to see that the light goes out to all who need to see it from wherever they are in life.
May we as Christians let our lights shine forth brightly and glorify our Father in Heaven, no matter where we find ourselves on this earth.
Brenda Cannon Henley is an award-winning journalist and writer living on the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast. Having enjoyed more than four decades in ministry, Brenda shares her columns with our readers and works with churches and faith-based programs nationwide. She can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.