I once saw a picture of a castle, beautiful and ornate, nestled among city homes and skyscrapers. In contrast to the modern walls of steel, glass, and siding, this castle was the first thing about the picture to grab ones attention. The severe difference in eras caused its stone walls to stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. Its earth tones clashed with the cold metals around it. Solid and regal, its grandness dwarfed any shadow the neighboring skyscrapers could have cast. No other edifice could compare to its greatness.
We as Christians aren’t so much different than that isolated castle. We stick out from the picture, our purity contrasting against a world of evil and hate. Our walls bring beauty and elegance to a society filled with ugly deeds of the flesh and selfish acts. Our towers cry refuge for the lost and hurt. We are a refreshing joy to any passerby. We are a light, shining brightly in the midst of the world’s dingy, smoggy atmosphere.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
What makes us so beautiful is that we are so different. We aren’t like everyone around us. We are like Jesus, shining His nature from the inside out. We don’t fit in, for fitting means losing His likeness. Our lifestyle, standards, speech, and what we believe shows off who He is. We are His representatives, His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20).
The challenge is maintaining that likeness for others to see. Sadly, it is far too easy to allow the world’s ugly steel and counterfeit siding to wear on our morale. Consistently surrounded by sin and fleshly temptations, we can become tarnished if we let our guard down.
When our focus strays from our position of royalty, we forget who we are and begin to let our uniqueness slip away. We undermine how special we are. We fear the criticism of those around us, those who’s walls are made of man-made sheet rock and dilapidated foundations. Before long, we are acting just like them, “conforming” to a world’s system that we were never meant to be a part of (Romans 12:2). We start lining our walls with tarnished behavior and standards. We are soon fitting in to the neighborhood of worn out buildings instead of standing regally above it all as children of the most high God.
The tragedy of giving up our royal beauty is that we are not the only one who pays the price. Yes, we may lose blessings and the peace that follow a holy lifestyle. We may not feel the joy of hearing Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). It’s a sad picture for us, but what about those around us?
Our commission is to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Without us, Jesus has no one to shine the way to Him. The world has no way of knowing how good He is or how much He desires to have a relationship with Him. If we are not being that “light,” we doing a disservice to those around us, hindering them from knowing the One person who loves them the most. Every time we try to adjust our habits and lifestyles to be “conformed to the world” we are drawing them farther away from their Savior, and blemishing God’s reputation. It soon turns to selfishness on our part as we ignore the plight of those around us simply because we are serving ourselves. Down come our beautiful walls, and up go our facades of hypocrisy. The genuine us, born again and set apart, is hidden away in a closet. The light is snuffed out, and the neighborhood is dark once again, no better than it was before we arrived.
As God’s chosen ambassadors, we have a decision to make. We can keep our walls high as a refuge for all who enter, leaving our lamp shining brightly in our castle windows for all to see. Or we can forget our commission and darken our walls with no light to brighten the passageways.
We may have to overcome some bad habits and wrong ways of thinking. We may have to disconnect from wrong relationships that are holding us back from living in our royalty. We may have to shut out some wasteful entertainment that is slowly dimming our lamp. Regardless of what is keeping us from being that glowing edifice, God has all the equipment to get us out of dilapidation to glorious splendor. He’s provided the blood of Jesus to forgive any wrong we have done. He has given us His Word to bring life back into our walls. And He has sent His Holy Spirit to empower us to stand tall, despite the culture around us.
With all the power of heaven behind us, we have no reason to choose the counterfeit lifestyle of the world. We were made for so much more, despite what those around us might say. They may criticize our ancient walls and laugh at our “outdated” system of lighting. But when wars come to our walls, we will still stand tall, beautiful and strong, amid the rubble of the world’s cheap attempt to be noticed.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”