The life of good soil – the life producing the fruit that would make me fulfilled, is the life of the lamp on the stand. That’s what I want to be. When people come into our lives, do they see the light? Or are they blinded by the shining of our righteousness in their eyes?
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”
Having just read the parable of the sower I am glad to see the lamp under the bed comes next in Luke’s report of the life of Jesus. Same for Mark’s account. Call me crazy, but I think Scripture often builds in a manner that new stories often illuminate the point or application of the last lesson. It’s like that today.
Yesterday I was bummed a bit because I want to be the good soil in the story of the sower who sows seeds of life into people. I dwell more on the times and feelings of being lesser than and feelings of going off track – Jesus’ parable speaks of weeds and thorns and hardness. I often feel that way. Do you?
Paul writes about it in Romans 7. We do the things we don’t want to do and we don’t do the things we want to do, which is live good and healthy and spiritually fulfilling lives. This is the problem of sin.
I love that Jesus paints a picture of a life lived well in today’s story. The life of good soil – the life producing the kind of fruit that would make me fulfilled, is the life of the lamp on the stand. That’s what I want to be. A lamp on a stand.
Jesus describes the function of such a lamp. The lamp is positioned so that when people come in they see the light. Are we ready for the question?
When people come into our lives, do they see the light?
Don’t ask me that. Not that question. Ask me something else. Ask me anything else. Ask me if I give to charity. Ask me if I go to church. Ask me if I pay my tax and love my wife and read my Bible and support my family. These are trappings of a good life. Nothing against them. As the bride of Christ, however, these are accessories worn with the wedding gown. They are not the gown itself.
They are titles and cover photos and endorsements on the outside of the novel. They are not the story or the main character or the climax. What is? Expressing the light within us to others.
The essence of the good-soil-fruit-producing life is being who we are. When we connect with God through the life of Jesus, we have the light of God within us. When we put that light on a stand, others get to share it. When we are shining God’s love and light we are living the life we desire in God not the life we are trying to leave behind.
Note that this is not shining our righteousness and good works in the face of others. Have you ever had someone shine a flashlight in your face in the dark? This is a favourite tactic of the park rangers at Deception Pass State Park in Washington. 10pm is quiet time at the park, and if you happen to have your music loud enough that Ranger Danger can hear it when he makes his rounds, you get a visit from his flashlight.
Sarge the dog let’s you know he’s coming. He runs over and barks at the walking flashlight, which is arguably more annoying and disruptive to the neighbours than a little Steve Miller or Jackson Browne. Once up and trying to pull Sarge back, Ranger Danger trains the light on your pupils so you are at a complete disadvantage and he, fully armed and well-rehearsed at the practice range, is asking for your compliance while he remains well-positioned for your non-compliance.
I never feel loved or illuminated by Ranger Danger. I never feel like the light he brings to the conversation is mutual or that it lights us the space between us so we can have a meaningful dialogue. Ranger Danger’s approach is more interrogation or demanding or a recital of law or policy.
Don’t be a Ranger Danger Christian. The light you bring to those who enter your life isn’t meant to blind people with rules or law or holier than thou impressions. It’s meant to be a draw. It’s meant to be an expression of Jesus saying, ‘Come to me, everyone who is weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest,’ (Matthew 11:28).
Make today a lampstand day.