Lamp And Lampstand

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The  only purpose of  a lamp  is to  get light. We never call anything  that  cannot give us light, a lamp. Our age-old practice  has been to  light the lamp and keep it  at some convenient place. Many  of us  think that our duty is  over once we keep its  flame burning.

But to put the  lamp in the  right place is as important as  lighting it.  It is here that  we  stumble. The enthusiasm with which we light  the  lamp  vanishes soon afterwards and we  seldom care for putting it at the right place. Jesus has a few words to tell us in this  regard. ‘No one  after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it  under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light’ (Lk 8:16). In fact only a lamp which is placed on a lampstand is worth its name, because it   performs its  primary duty of giving light to those around.

We are  proud of our  Christian faith and heritage. We take pride in telling others that  the lamp of faith  reached our hands centuries ago. We are  also proud that  we keep its flame intact, without  giving a chance to anybody to put it out. So far so good. But the pertinent question is; where do we keep our lamps? Some  under  jars  and some under their beds! Some others have  invented  novel  methods to keep their  lamps without ever being seen by others.

The wicked and lazy servant also did the same thing. He  hid the  coin  ‘wrapping it up in a piece of cloth’ (Lk 19:20) until his master came back. Our Master  also will return one day and will question us about what he entrusted  us with. Do you think that  he will be satisfied  if we return the principal amount? Then what about the interest? In a world of  diminishing returns our Lord  should be given  at least  a reasonable return. It is pretty  foolish to think that  Jesus will be happy  with those who kept their faith, but did not share it with others, so as to increase the returns of faith.

In the final analysis, what counts is  how and how much we  shared the  light of faith  with others. It doesn’t need  the title of a  bishop, priest, or preacher to  share  the light of gospel. We can, and we should emanate the  light of  gospel in our everyday actions. In  our homes, workplaces, business establishments  and wherever we go ,  God gives us enough opportunities to  give witness to   the gospel. There is only one reason for us to  pull  back  from this  cardinal   duty. It is  sheer shame. Jesus Christ has  warned  us about the consequences of   feeling ashamed to confess his name  and his words.  ‘Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of  the  Father and of the holy angels’ (Lk 9:26).

We have innumerable examples of those who never felt ashamed to  give witness to Jesus Christ and his  gospel  at every opportunity. Their hope was simple. When their  Lord returns, he should not be  ashamed of them!

When I S I S terrorists beheaded 21 people  in Libya, none of them  denied  their faith in Jesus to escape from  a sure and imminent death.  Of those 21, only twenty were Christians and the twenty first person, who never knew who Jesus was, also showed his  head  to  the terrorists. What  prompted him to  sacrifice his life for a God  whom he never knew, was  the  courage with which  his friends  confessed their faith in Jesus. In Nigeria, where murdering Christians is an ongoing  daily  ritual, none of them  denies their Lord  Jesus Christ. In many Muslim countries where Christians are  persecuted for  their faith,  the number of believers are increasing day by day. It is because those who  were persecuted and killed for their faith, kept their lamps not  under  jars or beds, but on their lampstands.  Its  light attracted many more to  Jesus and  brought more and more  conversions.  If the fastest growing  church these days  is those in China and  Iran, it speaks volumes about the way  their minuscule Christian population  held aloft their lamp of faith against all odds.

Let us introspect. Where are we standing? Where are our lamps? Living  in comfortable zones, without  having to face  persecution  or discrimination, are we true to  our faith? We cannot offer any valid  reason  for shying away from  our  primary duty of giving witness to   Jesus.  Majority of those who read this  are  living in countries where the right to  profess one’s faith is  guaranteed by  law.  Yet, if we ignore giving Jesus to others, what answer  are  we  going to keep  ready for  the  moment when our  Lord returns?

Is our  lamp still burning? Is it put on  its lampstand? Do others who meet us see the light of Jesus in us? Finally has anybody found the way to  Jesus through the  light of the  lamp that you and I lit? Let us pray; O Lord Jesus Christ, who came to the  world as its light, give us the grace to proclaim  our faith in everything we do. May our lamp of faith lead those in darkness  to the eternal light that you promised. Amen.

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