The pastor made comments about the lovely flower arrangements decorating the front of the church. He used them as an excellent illustration about being real! They looked deceptively real, but were in fact artificial, fake, and phony.
Not all things, or people for that matter, are the real thing. Imitations are passed off as the real thing everywhere one goes. Fake flowers and fake people can deceive us, but thankfully not for long. Counterfeit coins or counterfeit Christians – neither can be taken at face value. Being totally acquainted with the real thing, however, will give us the discernment to know when something or someone is fake! As I mulled over this picture, other thoughts crowded my mind.
In our sanctuary, there is no access to natural light streaming in through beautiful, wide or stained glass windows. Even a child knows that without natural light real plants cannot grow. The reason we don’t have too many windows is probably because we fear they would invite vandalism. What if someone left them open and it rained in? Whose job would it be to open and close them all the time? Hence the decision was made to have no windows and to use fake greenery and flowers to at least give the appearance of beauty, softening the strong lines and edges.
Without windows the bright light on the inside cannot be viewed on the outside either. We come together as a family of God to worship Him inside our beautifully designed, decorated, huge and comfortable house; but we don’t let the sunshine in or allow our light to be seen on the outside. Is there perhaps a spiritual lesson in this as well? Much more important, however, is whether this is the case in our personal life.
Do the windows of our soul allow for the Light of Jesus Christ to penetrate so that we can grow – naturally and beautifully? Do they in turn allow us to radiate that light back to the world so that they can see the works of our Father in our life? Are we real, growing and bearing fruit in our season and for eternity? Are we a joy for others to behold in all our diversity?
Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with a co-worker, I was surprised when she made the strong comment that, “religion should be a very private thing.” In an accusing tone she said that my friend and I, who were partners in ministry at that time, were so different; we were always talking about our faith, beliefs and values in one way or another, making it a normal part of every day conversation. “I like to keep my religion to myself,” she continued. “That’s like keeping the shades drawn in my house so no one can see inside. I’m a very private person and no one needs to know what goes on in my house or my heart. That’s my business only. God sees me and that’s all,” she insisted. Then, in a disapproving tone, she persisted, “The two of you never have the shades drawn. You are both so transparent about your beliefs and values in Jesus and the Bible that everyone can see the light that’s inside, just shining out there for everyone to see!” and she spread her hands wide for drama!
Noting her defensiveness and her unwillingness to hear any more of what I had to share about the Lord, my comment to her was an incredulous, “My, then I’d better make sure my windows are always washed.” This seemed to disarm her and we both chuckled.
What she meant to be insulting and a put-down has been to me a most valued acknowledgment of my role as Christ’s disciple. It never fails to cause me to ask myself if I truly am reflecting the Light of Jesus everywhere I go and with whom I come in contact on a daily basis. Am I real because I’m growing in the Light of Jesus or am I a plastic, fake, phony Christian because there is no light? I rejoiced that our windows were clean and people could see the Light of our Savior radiating in and through us; in our daily lives and in our ministry team. She still sometimes makes disparaging remarks about other Christians and I continue to pray for her.
After the pastor’s vivid picture about being real or fake, I checked my heart before the Lord. I asked forgiveness for the times I don’t allow myself to be real because of fear of what people might think. Then I was also reminded to make sure that my windows are always washed so His Light can shine through – in both directions. How about you? Any thoughts come to mind?
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.” Matthew 23:26-28