Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1
From Our “Here”…
Astronomers have discovered about 3,700 planets outside of our solar system. If you’re surprised to learn that, keep in mind estimates range between 200 and 400 billion for stars in the Milky Way. Chances are good there are plenty more planets out there. By some calculations, perhaps 100 billion in our galaxy alone.
But if you’re a backyard astronomer, don’t go trying to find any of those planets yourself. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn may show up in your telescope just fine, but any planets beyond the solar system are so far away that those directly imaged by some of the world’s largest telescopes are little more than specks or smudges. So how do scientists continue to identify such planets?
Some stars give evidence of a planet’s presence. Astronomers carefully observe a star’s light. If a large enough planet passes directly in front of a star as observed from Earth, that star will dim slightly. Even if the planet never passes in front of a star from our point of view, its gravitational pull makes the starlight “wobble” ever so slightly. And this movement is detectable from Earth.
No one has yet been able to clearly see any of the planets orbiting faraway stars. But their influence on the starlight is unmistakable. Consider this parallel reality: Even when no one knows of a sin that latches onto a believer’s life, the influence of that sin on their ability to represent Christ to others will be unmistakable.
…To God’s “There”
Jesus described His followers’ life example as “light” that shines out to a lost world. “Let your light shine before men,” Jesus commanded, “that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Our light, just like the light of massive stars spread across our galaxy, is subject to subtle influences. Our light can dim. Our testimony can “wobble.”
Whenever believers consistently give in to temptation in any area, whenever some ungodly practice takes orbit in the soul, people who observe them will begin to question their “light.”
That shouldn’t discourage us. Rather, we need to remember how dependent we are on the Holy Spirit if we are to live for God faithfully. As the Spirit lovingly whispers conviction to our hearts, we have the privilege of repenting. Then the God of the universe steps in. His grace removes that sin as far as the east is from the west. And we keep on shining.
Making the Leap
Living a consistent Christian life in front of an observing world is a huge part of every missionary’s ministry. He or she is constantly evaluated by people in a host country who are trying to determine if that person’s life really does match up with their claims of faith and truth. Your life is constantly communicating something to the world. What is that message? Where might God be leading you to live out His saving truth?