This weekend I was blessed to be able to go on a little hike with my buddy Bert AND I brought along my gal pal Belle. It was a special time with friends. Of course you know that I spend time each week at Bert's place. I spend time with Belle too, butt not every week. Belle and I have been friends for a long time, and a lot of our time has been spent camping, backpacking and hiking. So to have my two Golden friends with me on my Birthday weekend was extra special. As we hiked along it might have been cloudy butt now and then the light shined through and I saw the colors of the rocks and the surroundings that I think others might have just over looked thinking it just a gray overcast day.
What’s your favorite color? Is it more 450? Or do you tend towards 600? Maybe even 700? In case those numbers don’t immediately mean anything to you, on the visible spectrum scale for light 450 nanometers means “blue,” 600 is yellow, and at 700 nanometers you are seeing red.
But we don’t “see” numbers, do we? We see the beautiful, variable, illuminating colors that light takes on as it is refracted and reflected before our eyes. We don’t experience nanometers. We bask under a blue sky don't we? Or we bath in wonder at the beauty of a sunset that melts from orange to red to crimson and purple. Whether we catalogue light as 550 nanometers or perceive it as “green” is all a matter of perspective. Are we dissecting the idea of “light” into its most basic components (measured nanometers)? Or are we responding to the expression of that light as we experience it in the world (colors)?
In Matthew’s account of the “Sermon on the Mount,” immediately after Jesus lays out his “blessed be” Beatitudes, he lifts up two metaphors of how disciples of the kingdom will be known to this world. They will be the “salt of the earth,” they will be the light of the world,” a light that will “shine before others.” Salt sharpens flavors. Light sharpens both sight and insight. Jesus is calling would-be followers of the kingdom to sharpen lives by living on the sharp, the cutting edges, the places where new perspectives, new tastes, and new visions are embraced.
Light does not just banish darkness and illuminate corners and crevices. Light also works to provide a new perspective — to put our experiences and perceptions into “a new light.” To be a disciple of Jesus, of the kingdom of God, is not just to be a focused beam of light at some measurable nanometer with laser-like narrowness and intensity. To be the “light” that Jesus challenged his disciples to be also means to continually put a new light, a new perspective, on all the world, to willingly “change up” the “game plans,” the “paradigms,” that we are used to living by every day.
Jesus’ description of the kingdom of God, where the “blessed” are the poor in spirit, the mournful, the meek, the peacemakers, the persecuted, the child-like, shifts our focus and redirects our “light.” The Beatitudes force us to stop looking at some “big picture” of marketable success, a collective to be conquered, and instead look at others as singular and significant, an individual to be embraced.
This is what Jesus calls each of us to do: to see others as he sees them. This is the new perspective that Jesus-light gives disciples: we direct our thoughts and tasks, our compassion and love, to individuals with names, not institutions or instruments with numbers.
Jesus light helps us to see others as they really are. That change in perspective changed everything. People who are hungry need to be fed. Kids who have no place to sleep need a safe place to lay their heads. Seeing the reality of what individuals are dealing with in their lives helps us focus the light of our faith on their immediate needs, not our own long-term goals.
The Jesus light also illumines new insights, puts a new light on old perceptions, but it also banishes old shadows and those blackened corners of our lives. The light of Jesus lets us see what we could be. What God is calling us to be. What is completely transformable in our lives. We are called to be a light for the world. We are also invited to immerse ourselves and transform ourselves in that new light, that new vision of possibilities and perspectives.
No child should have the blank pages of their life filled up with the forbidding text of a story that is over before it has begun, a book that opens only to shut, already weighted down to close by the burdens of birth, breeding and bias.
Jesus did not just want his disciple to see others as they really are — that was only the first step. The disciple who truly embraces Jesus light, who sees his new illumination on this world, is the person who sees others as Jesus saw them. Jesus never saw anyone as a sinner, only as a sufferer. Jesus never saw anyone as someone who had fallen short, but as someone who needed help to cross the finish line. Jesus did not condemn. Jesus cured.
The world would totally change, if this one beautiful thing were put into practice: if we would only see others as Jesus sees them. If we all saw each other as Jesus sees us, then we would see everyone we meet as a beloved child of God.
You are the light. So shine. Let your beautiful light shine, see others for who they are, for who they are created to be. For they are light just like you. They maybe a blue (450) and you maybe be red (700) butt it takes all those colors to make up a rainbow my friends, so shine shine shine.