We talk about being "lights for Christ" and that our life will shine like a light for Jesus. That somehow with Christ shining out from us, people will see the sin in their own lives and see the grace and mercy and forgiveness that Christ offers, and they will want that.
I think the focus of the Church then, within itself and then extending outwards, is relationships. Here is why. The light of Christ shines when I am in relationship with another person. I mean, maybe it shines when I'm all alone but then it's just a little light for me to read by in bed. Do you know what I'm saying here?
Let me explain. I think that God gave us marriage. Why did he do this? He didn't have to. I think he gave us marriage as another kind of light for us to see by. When I think of my life and the things that 1) show me the sin in my life, 2) remind me that I need forgiveness, and 3) bring me to the feet of Jesus to ask for forgiveness... well marriage is at the top of the list. Being in that kind of relationship daily shows me the darkness and ugliness in my heart. My marriage is a big ole' light in my life.
And then of course there is parenting... Shows me the sin in my life? Check. Reminds me that I need God and his forgiveness? Check. Brings me to the feet of Jesus to ask for forgiveness and strength? Double check. I mean I have never felt like such a big giant fat sinner than I do now trying to parent these three kids. God is using these relationships to show me the stubborn veins of darkness. My impatience. My selfishness. My unrighteous anger. I mean it is ugly, people, believe me.
And that is just my little nuclear family. I haven't even begun to explore the light that shines from friendships, teammates, spiritual authorities in my life. Not mention my relationship with Holy Spirit himself, the Father himself, and Jesus himself. I mean, I think the reason that relationships and conflict are so difficult is for this very reason. Each one of these relationships have a way of shining a light on our own shortcomings. And every single one of us is falling short of God's standard.
So why do we need to be constantly reminded of it? Because it brings us right back to what I was babbling about yesterday: God's grace and mercy. The shortcomings we see in ourselves by being in relationship remind us every moment of God's amazing grace and mercy toward us. Because of Christ's sacrifice and triumph over death, we can find forgiveness and extend it toward others. We can live enjoying a constant flow of grace from our Father in heaven. Blessed be his name!!!!