Social media is an amazing tool and it’s also a horrible weapon. It connects us to the world and it amplifies the worst parts of who we are. Through it we can connect with family and friends who are far from us. Through it we have a megaphone for every negative thought and idea that comes into our minds.
It really is the street corner of the modern life.
In the sermon on the mount Jesus says,
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
This little section has been a bit of an enigma for me. Mostly because in other places Jesus tells people to go into their prayer closets and if the world makes much of your good works you have already received your reward. This little statement feels like a bit of a contradiction.
How do we reconcile these things?
Particularly in our day and age with social media and the way we document everything we do. There is something about people seeing the good we do and there is something to keeping it quiet.
Perhaps, the contradiction is in my own mind? Perhaps, there isn’t really a contradiction. Perhaps, there’s a way to let people see your good deeds without also showing off.
As I continue to wrestle with this tension, there are some things that keep coming back to me. When you turn on the lights in your home what do they do? Nothing. They just light the room. It’s all they do. There’s no celebration, there’s no calling attention to them, there is just light. The lamps themselves don’t make a big deal about doing what they do. The city that Jesus was most likely talking about here was Tiberias. The city is up on the west side of the Sea of Galilee overlooking a cliff. At night it is beautiful and it lights up like a candle in a dark room. It was true then as it is true now, the city could not be hidden.
Jesus uses these inanimate objects to shine a light (see what I did there?) on how we ought to live.
The follower of Jesus is to go about loving their neighbor and loving their enemy every, single, day. It is to be the ordinary way of life for them. In the same way a city sits on a hill or a lamp gives light to the house, the follower of Jesus is to #LoveWell.
We don’t draw attention to ourselves. There is no need to post the selfie on your social media as you love well. Just go about being a follower of Jesus in his way by loving your neighbor and your enemy.
As some point someone may see your light and give glory to the Father. What is significant about this statement by Jesus is that our “light” is directly tied to our “good deeds.” Following Jesus is not about ideas or worldviews. It is about living love and embodying that love to your neighbor and enemy. To follow Jesus is to live in this world in a way that displays the inward reality that grace has wrought in us.