For anyone who grew up in a church-going household, it is likely one of the first songs you ever learned.
This little light of mine, I”m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…
Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine…
The point of the song is to let the light of Jesus’ love shine through your life. It’s a pretty good message if you ask me.
Yet, somewhere in the fog of politics, that message is getting confused–and it’s breaking my heart.
My journey as a Christian has come a long way in the last few years. I have traveled from the cozy confines of Conservative Christianity, wherein I enjoyed life in a comfy den of like-minded people, into the troubled waters of a Christian who has ventured a little left of the political center. I’m certainly not the only one out here, there are others like me, but we all seem to be survivors of a shipwreck clinging to whatever piece of flotsam or jetsam we can manage to get our hands on to keep from sinking. Even if you are in a crowd, when you are holding on for dear life, tossing to and fro on the turbulent seas, it feels pretty lonely. I wrote about my journey to get to where I am politically and philosophically in this article if you are interested in reading more about it.
The reason if feels so lonely out here where I currently find myself is because of the pressure I feel from all sides to hide my light under a bushel.
When I am in a group of non-Christians, I feel reluctant to let my light shine for fear that someone might assume I’m one of those judgmental types and will have somehow mentally condemned them all to hell because they might be gay, have had an abortion, or–gasp–voted for a Democrat.
Christians who are not as politically conservative as we are “supposed to be” also feel pressure to go along with the tide when we are with a group of Christians and anything political comes up. We often sit, nod and smile while biting our tongues. What we are really doing is hiding our light under a bushel. A perfect example of this came up just the other day.
I was looking through my Facebook feed and noticed that several old church friends had been tagged in a post. The post was a link to an article about a small businessman who is being sued because he refused to provide a service for a gay couple’s wedding. I don’t know the man who shared the article, but he wrote this in his post, Good for him! It’s about time we stood up to this nonsense. I say if he gets fined, we start a Go Fund Me drive to pay all his costs.
I immediately began to type up a sarcastic response to this man’s post. Here is what I was about to post…
Wow! Think of all the souls you are winning for the Kingdom by taking such a stand. So many people will be attracted to your message! I hope you will also support businesses who refuse to serve other “sinners” like, gluttons, people who covet their neighbor’s possessions, people who have impure thoughts, people who don’t love their neighbor as themselves, people who put things before God, people who speed…
I typed out that response but I never posted it. For one, I didn’t know the man, I only knew some people he tagged and none of the people who he tagged responded to him (which I was glad to see), so I let it go. But it felt like I was hiding my light under a bushel.
What kind of message are some Christians sending when they take the public political stands that they do?
When we cherry-pick our “favorite sins” to rail against while ignoring a multitude of others we do more damage than good. The Bible makes it very clear that sin is sin and not one of us has clean hands, not even close.
In fact, the Bible is much more clear about that than it is about the “sin” of being homosexual. Most of the references to homosexuality are in Leviticus, buried among a laundry list of other sins that seem no longer to apply, yet the homosexuality part does somehow (that’s always fascinated me)…or in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah where the context did not involve loving, committed same-sex relationships but gang rape. I think people on both sides of the political aisle can come together and agree to the fact that gang rape is a no no.
There is no record of Jesus saying anything at all about homosexuality.
Yet, some of us choose to use our “lights” to illuminate our own interpretations of sins, alienating, and marginalizing the very kinds of people that Jesus spent his entire ministry loving.
That isn’t letting your light shine, that is spreading darkness.