How to Shine Your Light in Public Places

I take delight in hearing an individual share his or her story. When a person opens a window into his or her internal life, I feel privileged. I’m the type of person to turn my head while driving down the street when the curtains are pulled back in a window. I am also the type of person to incline my heart and my ear to a soul unveiled, a vulnerable, soft heart.

This week I had the privilege of hearing a woman’s story of caring for her father with Dementia while navigating systems and family issues. She told it during a staff training about emotional triggers. Before she opened up, I took note of how guarded she was. She is beautiful and guarded, hurting and reaching. Yet, I knew not the gravity of her circumstances before she opened up. I only saw a Black women whose facial expressions supported the fact that she is not the one. Note to reader: when a Black woman says she isn’t the one, trust her. When the word “ain’t” replaces “isn’t,” don’t try her.

She spoke.

I listened.

I was deeply inspired.

And the Lord set us up to be a blessing to one another in words and hugs.

But the following questions came to me: how should we respond to hurting people when we don’t hear the story? How do we permit life in suffocating situations?

Letting your light shine among spiritually-conscious churchgoers is rather easy. But we are called to be lights in the ruins, in desolate places.

Here are a few notes I gathered before hearing this woman’s – my sister’s – synopsis of her pain.

  1. Don’t say, “I know what going through” when you don’t. Just be quiet.
  2. Don’t touch people you do not know without their permission. You don’t know what their emotional triggers are. You may like hugs, like me. But they may not be in the space to receive them. Respect that.
  3. Let people feel what they are feeling so that they can come out on the other side. God’s will is not that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9). You trying to shield them from their processes does not make you God and is not of God. It makes you ignorant and presumptuous, also known as wrong. Trust me, I’ve been ignorant and presumptuous many times with good intentions.
  4. People who are angry may perceive your smile and kindness as unauthentic. Let them think what they will think and say what they say. Keep smiling. Keep being kind. When you know you and how far you’ve come, you don’t have time for pettiness.
  5. Let people join the conversation at their own pace. Celebrate their physical presence and pray for the Spirit to come upon them and open them up.
  6. Don’t rush into praying with someone after you hear a piece of what they’re going through. Prayer to God alone for them is so powerful. He will honor you in His guidance of you as you interact with them. You don’t want to overwhelm people.

Loving the loveable is easy. Jesus said even capitalists do that in Matthew 5:46. But to love people enough to wait for them to open up is godly love (John 9:35 – 38). While we were still sinners – without strength – Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). Remember how weak you were when you embraced the Love that wouldn’t let you go. As you remember your weakness, extend yourself wisely to the ones whose stories you have not heard and permit life in suffocating circumstances.

Dear Christian

Christians who worship beyond themselves and the context of their circumstances sing of an everlasting God. They serve God not merely in theory but in practice. They incline their hearts to the Word and Way of Christ. They commit themselves to walking in obedience. They do not prefer the microphone over the broom. Rather, they see ministries involving the broom preparatory for stages beyond the four walls of a building. They are the Church. They are Kingdom-minded, not seeking position, popularity, and status. With vision casted upward, they inspire sore spectators to actively participate in creating the world they want to see “on earth as it is in Heaven.” I aspire to exude this quality of faith. I pity the Christian who loses sight of Jesus, His mission, God’s calling, and the human’s soul purposes for eternity because of the legalization of Gay Marriage.

The purpose of this article is to encourage followers of Jesus Christ in their journey of faith becoming sight in view of changing times. The author does not imply that Christians must support Gay marriage. The author does not believe God’s views on His institution of marriage have changed. The bullets below outline a few things we can do as carriers of God’s fire, light, glory, and purpose. I petition for Christ-like character qualities to be seen rather than legislative character qualities masqueraded behind the label of “Christian.”

  • Remember that who God commands us to be in relationship to humans is not based off of their sexual orientation (John 13:34). Too often, people in the Church magnify the wrongdoings of LGBT community members because of the visibility of their lifestyle. We think that because two men are kissing each other, that must be superior in wrongdoing than secret hatred. Two women holding hands must be superior in wrongdoing than greed and gossip. It’s not! There is no big sin and little sin. Lust and fornication are heart issues that must be checked regardless of sexual orientation. Check out Romans 1, Galatians 5:19 – 21, Ephesians 4:3 -5 and 1 Corinthians 6:9 – 10.
  • Don’t let a Supreme Court ruling be the reason why you close the door on humans who need God just as much as you and I do. People are hurting regardless of their sexual orientation. What if you walking out the person God intends for you to be brings an entire neighborhood, village, city, or generation to know Him? Even people who think they are okay are trying to shield themselves from potential pain. Don’t be deceived by their defense mechanisms. Each of us have spiritual desires that only the FATHER, the SON, and HOLY SPIRIT can fulfill.
  • Devote yourself to Christ and take on a different perspective. I am learning that in this world, you will find whatever or whoever you are looking for. If you’re looking for a real Christian at a highly intellectual, Ivy-league university, you’ll find one. If you’re looking for a compromising and dope-dealing Christian at the Christian College, you’ll find one. The drug may not be what you think it is. In this vein, we must devote ourselves to Christ and find out what is pleasing to Him (Ephesians 5:10). There specific word Jesus spoke to the humanity (LGBT included) about leaving our way of life is found in Mark 8:34. We are ALL called to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him. Her cross may be the desire for another woman. Yours could be having a response to everything someone says about you. His could be the desire for another man. Yours could be questioning why someone received something freely when you felt like you had to work for that very thing.You don’t know why people are the way they are and do what they do. Pause for a listen.
  • Don’t let one group’s definition of love and family lead you to aim your behind for the throne of God to render His judgment. The Church, overall, has done a poor job at seeing with spiritual eyes and loving people into who God wants them to be. Outsiders hear that God is love and their hurt is the result of someone’s practice of hate. God’s definition of Love will never change (see some examples in 1 Corinthians 13, Jeremiah 31:3, Genesis 28:15, and John 15:13). He being the absolute of LOVE will NEVER CHANGE. Man is the culprit for the decisions that have been made as a result of his freewill. When people start seeking the face of God, the heart of God, diving into Christ according to Gospels and not what they heard secondhand in a class or on a DVD – when they have a revelation of Christ – the ones on the outside will align themselves with Truth. One example is that babies won’t be conceived to lustful music and left parentless then to look for the parent in a partner. We cannot press rewind on every moment a bruised spirit walked out of the Church never to return because of man’s ego or lack of accountability. But we can press pause on the moments we are given today to make a difference and impact people’s lives for eternity.
  • Spend time alone in the presence of God developing your gifts. We do not know what we are truly capable of until we get up and get started. Athletes don’t train for the game looking at what others are supposed to be doing in his or her opinion. Rather, they put their mind, body, soul, and strength on advancing toward the mark of the prize. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are called to do the same – and even more so (Philippians 3:12 – 14).

Some Christians are disappointed with the legalization of Gay Marriage. I am disappointed with the number of people living double and triple lives in the church.  I am frustrated that more people are not being healed of disorders and diseases. I am frustrated that people applaud gifting, seek entertainment, and are more concerned with image than they are with abiding the Presence of the Most High God.

We, as believers, are called to do so much more than judge and fear being judged.

Position yourself to stay in awe of God as He reveals Himself to you and shows you who you are. Then you will be slower to tell a group of sexually-confused teenagers who they aren’t. You will learn how to practice mercy and grace as you receive it. You will pave the way for people to have their own relationship with God without them hearing the sounds of you.

The bottom line is you and I don’t have understand someone chemically in order to love them scripturally. We are commanded to love scripturally. Let Truth wrapped in Love do it’s perfect work. We don’t know who people will become and what God has for them as a result.