“You are the light that shines for the world to see. You are like a city built on a hill that cannot be hidden. People don’t hide a lamp under a bowl. They put it on a lampstand. Then the light shines for everyone in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16
Tuesday we had a closer look at the 1875 Currituck Beach lighthouse. It’s a phenomenal piece of engineering, 162 feet tall, 220 steps, and more than one million bricks.
The structure is commanding, sleek, beautiful – a real work of art. None of that matters, however, if the light doesn’t shine. It’s an aid to navigation, not a piece of public art; Currituck Beach lighthouse tells ships exactly where the land is, and it tells ships exactly where they are too.
I like the lighthouse metaphor for the church. Church is not only a beacon that lets people know about the Good News, but a fixed point of reference that helps the world navigate troubled waters. The church is not only supposed to let people know where it is, it’s supposed to let them know where they are too.
Faith is not so much a “bridge over troubled water” as it is a help when it comes to navigating through difficult waters. We are best when we are a light fixed to the solid rock that is Jesus. The waves crash, the billows roll, the tempest rages… the lighthouse stands.
In the late 19th Century, three families were commissioned to take care of the Currituck Lighthouse. They ran shifts, including tending the light during the night. You see it isn’t enough for the beacon to shine when it is convenient; the light must be visible at all times – most especially times that are inconvenient.
LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE: The time it’s most critically important that the light of Jesus be evident in me is likely the time I feel the least inclined to shine. The team of families that ran the lighthouse remind me of my sisters and brothers at WFPC. It’s not only challenging to shine all by ourselves, it’s effectively impossible. We must lean on one another; we must encourage other believers; we must be able to trust other light-keepers; we must be ready to hold one another up when our witness needs a boost.
DUCK: Rebekah and I rounded off the day with a walk along the shoreline in Duck (we were looking for Duck Donuts, but that’s another story..). What a lovely community. The entire economy of Duck hinges on its ability to communicate the core message, the idea that Duck is a beautiful place where people want to be.
I wonder, how are we doing in that regard as The Church (Christendom)? How are we doing as a church (WFPC)? Are we shining with such integrity and with such signal brilliance that the Kingdom of God is presented as a beautiful place where people want to be? It’s called The exhibition of the Kingdom, and it’s a huge part of our core mission. We’re not just called to guard the light, we are called to be the light…