No doubt, most of you know that on Aug. 21 there will be a total eclipse of the sun. On that day, the moon will pass between us and the sun creating a 70-mile wide band of shade moving across the United States of America. It will begin over Salem, Or., at 10:16 a.m. PDT and conclude over Charleston, S.C., just before 3 p.m. EDT. Put a strip of tape across the U.S. map from Salem to Charleston and you will get a picture of its path. Though the sun will still be shining as brightly as ever, the moon will block its rays and darkness will reign for a while. It is an unusual, incredible scene that will affect all of us. The farther north you are in Mississippi, the more darkness you will experience. People all across our country, which occupies the northern and western hemispheres of Earth, are making plans to be directly in the path of the eclipse to view the moon blocking the sun.
In our spiritual hemisphere, Jesus the Son shines as brightly as ever today but His glory may get blocked by how we choose to live our lives. Sometimes it seems we come between Him and a world that needs Him. How is it possible that we can block so much of the brilliance of the life of Jesus that the world has a difficult time seeing through the darkness? Three thoughts come to mind.
The first thought is hypocrisy. A hypocrite is an actor playing a role, someone who is not really what they are presenting themselves to be. Hypocrisy in Scripture is seen in the lives of people who learned to play a role, to pretend, to act as though they were something they really were not. Times have changed but the reality is that many people seem to just work the system, play the game, pretend. They are what they are not, and the power of God in Jesus Christ is void in their lives.
Hypocrisy, whether it is real or imagined, often hinders people from coming to Christ. It is not unusual to hear someone say, “The reason I don’t go to church is because of the hypocrites,” to which some people respond, “Well, I’d rather go to church with the hypocrites than die and go to hell with hypocrites.” Maybe so, but the fact is that hypocrisy can be a dimming reality to a world that is already in darkness.
If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior and your heart’s desire is to walk in the light as He is in the light, you are sensitive to and fully aware that you are not perfect and that you too stumble and at times may fail or fall. That is the story of each of us to some degree but the fact is there are people who have put on the costume and pretend to be, and in so doing block the bright glory of Jesus from people who can’t see through their hypocrisy.
Another way to block His brilliance is through hate. It is sad but true that sometimes Christians are better known for what they hate than what they love. Hate and the Christian life are hard to put together. Hate is a strong word. Scripture tells us we ought to hate sin because of what it does to individuals and families, and churches and communities. The old cliché is that we hate the sin but not the sinner, but truthfully there are Christians who talk hatefully about people and sometimes about each other. It can be hard to distinguish whether their hatred is for the thing hurting a person or for the person himself/herself.
Hate is not a worthy objective when dealing with people. It robs us of compassion and sensitivity to the needs of those people. If hate becomes a dominant feature in your life, it will cast a darkness over your testimony and your love for Jesus, and it will be difficult for people to see the brilliance of His salvation through your eclipse of hate.
A third way we cover up the Son is simply by hiding the light. Jesus teaches us in the Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Jesus pointed out that men don’t light a candle and then put it under a basket. Rather, they set it in a place where all the light can shine throughout the room and push the darkness back (Matt. 5:15).
Maybe you’ve been hiding His light that is supposed to be shining through you. Maybe you keep it well hidden from your family, the folks with whom you work, and the people with whom you have social relationships.
Have you hidden the Son? Don’t be a part of an eclipse of the spiritual needs of yourself and others. Let your light shine today. Don’t block Christ’s love from flowing through you.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.