Not too long ago I saw a movie trailer for a remake of an old classic. A friend who watched the same trailer said it looked to her like the new film was nearly a carbon copy of the original, which she was “totally okay with.” I agreed with my her and waited with eager anticipation for the movie’s release.
Later, I realized how accurate my friend’s statement truly was—not just about that movie, but about life.
Aspiring for Greatness
We all have someone we greatly admire—someone who inspires us to dream big or motivates us to work hard. Naturally your goal is to be like that person. So what do you do?
You watch her.
You study her.
If possible, you spend lots of time with her.
You model your life and plans after hers.
Humor me a minute and imagine you’re an aspiring concert pianist. Your goal is to perform Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 as proficiently as your instructor. (If you’re not familiar with this piece, check out the link. You’ll be mesmerized!) So you form a game plan:
- You practice your scales just like your teacher tells you to.
- You heed her advice and slowly play the hard licks over and over (and over!).
- You listen carefully to and concentrate on imitating performances by accomplished artists.
- Finally, you master this doozy of a piece and then work to memorize it.
- And then one day . . . you perform it and everyone cheers!
The greatest compliment you could receive would be for your audience to think it was your teacher sitting on that piano bench instead of you. Or better yet—that your performance was exactly how Franz Liszt meant his rhapsody to be played. In essence, your goal is to become a carbon copy of the original.
Maybe your dream is writing a novel, making it to the Olympics, or owning a five-star restaurant. In each case, the goal is the same. You want to mirror or reflect the best in the field. As followers of Christ, our lives are meant to copy Jesus. We’re to be the light on a hill which points others to the Light. To do that we must follow Jesus, study Jesus, and spend lots of time with Jesus.
What It Means to Shine
These words of Jesus spoken to His disciples from the Sermon on the Mount are an illustration of what life in service to the King should look like:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14-16)
Let’s consider what this passage means when it says we are “the light of the world” that is to “shine before others,” and “give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
We Bend the Light Toward Jesus, Not Ourselves
This reality of being “light” to a watching world is truly amazing! On our own it is impossible to be a pure reflection of a perfect, holy God. So how can fumbling, failing sinners like you and I possibly be even a flicker of anything good? It is only through the soul-saving power of the blood of Christ that we are called “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9) and made perfectly whole (2 Cor. 5:21). Be a mirror and reflect that marvelous Light!
We Honor the Giver Above the Gift
If you think all the accomplishments and goals you’ve made are due to your great abilities and personality, think again. The Bible tells us that it is God who created us (Gen. 1:27, Ps. 139:13-16), that we are like clay in the potter’s hand, created for good works (Isa. 64:8, Eph. 2:10), and that it is only through the Holy Spirit that we can do those good works (1 Cor. 12:4-11). To truly honor God, we must have a heart that says with John the Baptist, “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.”
We Give Glory Instead of Grabbing It
When you complete a job well done, is it for your own personal gain or reward? Do you find yourself musing with pride over that fine speech you made or stellar volleyball game you played? Failing to give credit to your Creator is equivalent to hiding a lamp under a basket. It makes no sense at all. The purpose of a lamp is not to say, “Look at me! Look how bright I am!” No. A lamp is lit to brighten a dark room, to shine light on something other than itself. In order for people to give glory to the Father when they see our good works, we must give glory to the Father when we—through the Spirit—do good works. (Col. 3:23-24)
Writing a novel and performing a great masterpiece are wonderful and worthy goals. But our supreme goal is to beautifully reflect Christ and His gospel.
How well are you doing reflecting the light of Jesus to a watching world? The Apostle Paul was able to say, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). What about you? Can your friends, colleagues, and family members say you remind them of Jesus?