“Hey! Don’t shine that thing in people’s faces.”
If you’ve spent time around children under the age of ten, chances are you said that at least once.
What is it with kids and flashlights anyway? Well, to answer the child’s question, we can go with the old, tried and true, “because I said so.” But, that usually just gets us another, “why?”
Instead, let’s look at the real reasons and the purpose for which the flashlight was designed. I think we’ll find more than the do’s and don’ts of childhood play.
It’s all about purpose:
The flashlight, like lanterns of old, is designed to help us see in the darkness. Its purpose is to help us avoid potentially dangerous obstacles or pitfalls, aid us in finding things we seek in dark places, and alert others to our location.
How it works:
The flashlight itself doesn’t produce the glow. The lightbulb inside does that. Or the LED light source, depending on the type of flashlight. Without the light source, the flashlight is useless, except perhaps as a club if it’s large enough. (Warning to little siblings everywhere.)
So, why not let the kid shine it in our faces?
Second, and most important, that light is blinding. Wait, but that’s the complete opposite reaction for which the flashlight was designed. It’s supposed to help us see, not cause worse obstruction to our vision.
Plus, it’s just bad manners!
The same is true for us when sharing our faith or using the gifts and talents within us. The verse says, “let your light shine,” after all, not “shine your light.”
It is God, our light source, who does the shining. When we simply live our lives as the kind of people His Word says we are in Christ, others will see the light. Then that radiance can help them avoid the snares of the enemy, find what their hearts have been seeking all along, and see the truth of our current and eternal “location,” (what it means to be “in Christ”).
Otherwise, if we try to shine this light right at them… “Here, can’t you see how good God is? Do you see the talent He has given me? Don’t you want to be saved?”…Well, that can be annoying, off-putting, or even painful to the person we wish to help. Worse, it can blind them further to the truth of who God called us to be and of His loving nature.
As with children, to truly change a negative behavior, we must replace it with a positive one. It’s not enough to say, “don’t shine your light in someone’s face.” We need to know how to use our light in the right way.