Points to Ponder: The Light You Reflect Can Overpower the Darkness in Others

Points to Ponder
The Light You Reflect Can Overpower the Darkness in Others

On the corner embankment of the church parking lot there sat three men, full of the spirit. That "spirit" was the liquid variety and this was their regular meeting spot. I would watch them, wondering what were their stories. How could they waste their lives this way? One day I decided to meet them.
I found them to be interesting and personable. I grew to really love these guys and I wanted things to be better for them; however, I have learned that if there's no desire to change, no program will help. What can you do? More than you may think.
I knew most of the homeless and several knew me by name. When Hurricane Isabel threatened our area, the Episcopal priest and I set up an emergency shelter for the town's homeless folks (beds, meals, showers).
Over supper that first night, I sat with Jim. I asked how such an intelligent guy got into the mess he was in. We talked and ate together.
The next morning he talked to the addictions counselor about going into treatment. He later told me he was going to pursue recovery from alcoholism. He was through with that life style. Then he added, "I won't let you down, Dennis." That caught me by surprise.
I had not preached on the evils of alcohol. I didn't pester him about straightening out his life. All I did was ask his name, shake his hand, take an interest in him, and share a meal. He saw that I really cared. That was enough of a push.
That doesn't work with everyone. I am often let down and lied to by people; but that's the nature of their condition. However, with this one man, just caring compelled him to make a difficult life changing decision that will involve a lot of work. That was a good lesson for me. Little things really do mean a lot. He was near 60 and had been a drunk throughout much of his life.
Some evangelical Christians would read this story and wonder if I shared the gospel, tried to "lead him to Christ," etc. Some people are quick to pull out the hammer and nail these "lost souls." There is a place for that; however, I find that many of these "lost-looking" men and women actually claim to be believers already. Several have gladly received a free Bible from me and will talk with me about God.
But again, the little things we do make the loudest statements about who we are. Just as I have picked up valuable points to ponder from relatively minor observations, so have these lost souls as they are watching us. They're pondering what we're really all about.
Sometimes there is an accumulation of bad examples they've seen in so-called Christians. They have sensed the condescending attitude, felt the discomfort some people feel around them. Some Christians (which ironically means "Christ-like") are hostile.
I once heard of a prison in another country where Prison Fellowship has an active ministry. Over one of the entrance ways a sign read, "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers." Isn't that interesting?
Christians don't kick in doors and force people and families into prisons until they convert. But there are a lot of little things we do that cause people to reject the Lord. We are more often known for what we're against than Whom we are for. So, when we behave in a Christ-like manner in the simple things, that opens the door to the bigger ones. A simple thing like listening can break the lock off a tightly sealed heart.
Jesus tells us to be light; be the lamp on the table. (He didn't say beat people over the head with it.) Be light in a dark place and the whole space brightens. People can see what's really going on when you care.
A year or so passed since I had last seen Jim. One day he called from South Carolina. He was no longer homeless, renting a room, earning a small living, and was still sober. He called to see how I was doing.
I was in awe of the love of God for Jim - and for me.
"The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke 18:27).
Are you afraid of the dark? Particularly the darkness in people? Jesus said we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). How so?
Why does a full moon at midnight brighten the whole landscape? It simply is reflecting the light of the sun. God likewise calls us to be reflectors of His light. And His light is the life of all people (John 1:4). As that light permeates the darkness in the lives of others, it also changes us as we reflect that light.
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).
As you strive to obey the Lord, to "seek his face," the light of His countenance can be more clearly seen. As a mirror beholds the image it is reflecting, we are called to do the same.
When people know you care they will see the glory of God's presence is upon you.

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship of Clear Spring, MD. These articles (and sermons) are also found at www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com. Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 2:10 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. both days.