by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

May, 2008

Here it is, my fourteenth annual column about the balloons that decorate the interior of our church on Easter Sunday morning. As you already know, Easter was very early this year, the next-to-last Sunday in March. Largely because it was so early in the year, for a while that morning, there were snowflakes in the air. There hasn’t been an Easter this early for 95 years, since 1913, and there won’t be an Easter this early again for another 152 years, in 2160. It’s possible, if not likely, that no one alive today will see another Easter this early. Fortunately, next year Easter will be April 12, so we should have nicer weather.

When we went out onto the church lawn to release the balloons, their bright colors were a marked contrast to the gray, dreary, practically Winter day. And when we released them, they really stood out against the gray-tinged sky. They seemed to make everything a bit brighter and more alive.

A little color (and especially a lot of color) can brighten an otherwise dreary day. That’s my favorite part of Fall: the brightly colored leaves make everything less dreary, even in the midst of death. The leaves are dying and all nature seems to be preparing for death. But the colors of the leaves speak of life rather than death.

In the same way, we can be “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14a) and bring color and life into a world of sin. Jesus said, “‘I am the light of the world.’” (John 8:12b, 9:5b ESV). He commanded the first disciples to “‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’” (Mark 16:15b ESV). We live in a world that needs to hear the gospel and see God’s love in action. John wrote that “. . . whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.” (John 3:21 ESV). We can show God’s love through our own deeds. Jesus said, “‘I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.’” (John 12:46 ESV). We live in a world of darkness, just as the first disciples did; we can shine God’s light into our world, as they did into theirs.

Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.” (1 Cor. 4:9 ESV). It might be a bit uncomfortable for some of us to think of ourselves as “spectacles.” My generation grew up with our mothers telling us to avoid drawing attention to ourselves. “Don’t make a spectacle of yourself!” mom would say, any time I did something foolish or out of the ordinary. But Paul says it’s okay to be a spectacle for God.

Later, he went on to say to his Corinthian audience, “For our boast is this: the testimony of our conscience that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” (2 Cor. 1:12 ESV). The behavior of Paul and his companions, Silas (who was also called “Silvanus”) and Timothy (Acts 18:1-5, 2 Cor. 1:19), was godly and sincere. Neither the Corinthians nor anyone else could have any possible reason to think otherwise.

Likewise, our behavior should reveal God’s light. God has sent us into a gray, colorless, lifeless world of sin. We can bring the color of God’s presence into that world. We can show, through our actions, that there is more to life than what most people know or see. As the balloons brought a bit of color to an otherwise dreary afternoon, so too, through simple, sincere acts of kindness and godliness, we can bring light and hope into the lives of others and show them the savior.

“‘As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
“‘I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.’” (John 17:18-23 ESV.)

Copyright © 2008 by David Phelps