What kind of light are Christians supposed to shine? What kind of witness are we supposed to bear?
I have always been told that "they will know we are Christians by our love," but are there other ways to be "noticed" as Christians that are acceptable, pleasing, even, to God?
Should this be some kind of outward appearance: she dresses like a hippie and because there is something different about her, she shines a light for the Lord? What about other kinds of things-- she doesn't curse, so she must be a Christ-follower? He doesn't smoke or drink, so people should assume that he has the high moral standards set by the Almighty? Are we supposed to try and draw attention to ourselves for other people to witness what following God looks like?
To me this is all bollocks.
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Gentleness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Self-Control.
The days when I am feeling like I am walking closest with my God are the days when these characteristics, among other attitudes God's Word calls Christians to exhibit, are ruling in my life and when I am striving to follow Jesus's lifestyle and preaching. Although I find value in religious elements of my faith, rituals, traditions, and other physical reminders of my heritage as a Christian and the deeply rooted faith in which my forefathers and mothers lived and died, living as one who strives to be like Christ in my thoughts, prayers, words, and deeds is striving to live truly the way that Christ calls his followers to live.
I struggle so often feeling like I am not a good enough Christian and that others are of a deeper faith (or more shallow faith) because they put so much more emphasis upon the outward "signs" of a follower and the surface indications of a faith in the God of Israel. Truly, the Lord calls us away from judgment and to deeply examine only our own hearts and lives in order to live as an example to Christ-followers and non-believers alike.
The way God chooses to manifest himself in people's lives is going to look different from the outside, and only He can judge where someone's heart lies, although that doesn't excuse us from encouraging one another and addressing fellow believers when they need our support. I must trust that God's ways are higher than my own and that I cannot understand the ways he speaks to each one of us individually (inward general revelation, perhaps-- thank you Dr. Pak and Historic Christian Belief texts).
The only thing that matters for my own faith is that I seek God with all my heart, soul, and mind so that he can finish the good work he has begun in me, shaping me and molding me into someone who does, indeed, exhibit the characteristics of a woman who is following her God in that deep way. Even though I feel as though those godly characteristics are becoming more and more evident in my life as I seek to walk closer with God each day, I know that I, too, like all those I have observed, am still not perfect.
Almighty God is light. He lives in us as true light, and I'm gonna let it shine. I'm not gonna shine it, but I am gonna let it shine. 'Cause it will shine if I let it.
Have your way in me, Lord.