“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’”—John 8:12(NRSV).
In light of the recent mass shootings, I began to think about the different responses in the media, including social media. Some were seeking answers. Others were pointing fingers. Even more were demanding change.
My response, which may step on some toes, follows: We are the answer. Those fingers are pointing at us, too. The change begins with each of us.
I rarely respond to contentious subjects on social media unless the discussion is civil. After two back-to-back shootings, discussions began to emerge with gun control leading the pack. I’m not going to address that issue.
Our Actions or the Lack of is the Issue
In one of the “civil” social media posts, I responded with the following: “We need more Christ- followers who reach out to the hurting, the disenfranchised, the lost, the lonely, the angry, and the mentally ill. Warming a pew each Sunday doesn’t make you a Christian.
“Jesus left the building and spent time with the very people mentioned above. If we claim to be a Christian, we need to be following in His footsteps. Kindness begets kindness. Apathy breeds apathy. Hate breeds hate. Each one of us can make a difference, one person at a time.”
New Testament scholar Scot McKnight says, “Those who aren’t following Jesus aren’t his followers. It’s that simple. Followers follow, and those who don’t follow aren’t followers. To follow Jesus means to follow Jesus into a society where justice rules, where love shapes everything. To follow Jesus means to take up his dream and work for it.”
Being a Christ-Follower Requires Work
Throughout the Gospels, we read over and over Jesus calling out to people with two simple words, “Follow me!” Recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke, there is one instance when Jesus describes in more detail what it actually means to follow Him.
Jesus says “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
Being a Christ-follower means we will be required to step out of our comfort zones, serving those who are different from us. It means embracing those whom we might fear—those of a different ethnicity, religious, or social background. Following Jesus means we emulate Him.
Emulating Christ Means Sacrifice
Most of us find it difficult to sacrifice ourselves or our time for those we don’t know. This doesn’t mean we have to sell everything and become a missionary. We can be a light to those around us but it requires us to be aware of others.
Here are some easy and practical ways to shine the light of Jesus:
- Instead of treating a grocery checker as a servant, address the person by name and wish them a great day.
- Offer a smile and a greeting to everyone you meet.
- If you see a homeless person, buy him a meal. Or, carry a bag of necessities in your vehicle to give away.
- Offer encouragement to someone who seems down.
- Learn patience while driving in traffic. Instead of cutting in line, let the other driver go first. Offer a smile instead of a gesture that offends.
- Volunteer at your church, a homeless shelter, a food bank, a pregnancy center, a thrift store that supports a ministry. Any place relying on volunteers.
- Thank veterans in public for their service.
- Use your talents to help others. For example: teach computer skills or a sewing class; join a group that works together to improve the world, i.e. building Habitat for Humanity houses.
- Include others around you who may feel left out or who don’t fit in.
This list is just a beginning. What else can you do to be a light? Pray, asking God to show you how to be a light in this broken world.