You are light for the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way, your light must shine in people's sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 New Jerusalem Bible)

The population of the state of Oklahoma breaks down very neatly into two segments. There are those who are fans of the University of Oklahoma in Norman. There are those who root for Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. Sooner or Cowboy: there is no middle ground.

Oklahoma State has been renovating their football stadium. University officials got a surprise recently when inspecting the improvements being made. Specifically, it was a brick wall that surprised them — in fact, it led to an investigation into the identity of the bricklayer who put up the wall. It was most definitely NOT what Oklahoma State had asked.

The contractor had carefully aligned darker-colored brick in the wall to create the letters "OU" — the initials of Oklahoma State's arch-rivals from Norman.

The contractor, it turns out, was a University of Oklahoma booster who apparently wanted to take the opportunity to let whoever might notice where his loyalties lay. You might question his ethics. You might doubt his business sense. But it's hard not to appreciate his sense of allegiance. He made sure everyone who came into that stadium could see who he was, what he loved, and where his heart was.

Couldn't have been easy for him. Surely things would have gone more smoothly if he'd come in, put up his wall quietly, and gone home. There's certainly little chance he'll be doing further work for Oklahoma State. And think about the intentional effort it took to choose those contrasting bricks and arrange them to create those letters. It required some forethought and care for that bricklayer to make his statement.

Wish I could say I've always put the same amount of forethought and care into letting my world know who I am.

What about you? What does your life say to the people at your job, your school, in your neighborhood, house, church about who your Lord is and what your priorities are?

We're called to make sure that our lives are every bit as conspicuous as that Sooner bricklayer's handiwork in OSU's stadium. Our allegiance to Jesus should be every bit as obvious to those around us as a city built on a hilltop. We are light for the world — not us, really, but Christ in us. His glory radiates out of us in well-chosen words and redemptive, grace-filled actions, and God receives glory when that light falls on lives languishing in twilight and shadow. May it never be, Jesus cautions us, that we obscure that light for any reason. We exist to give light to everyone in the house.

It required some forethought and care.
It's not easy. It takes great care and forethought. It requires us to give up careless words and foolish actions. It means that we will be honest in facing up to — and merciless in dealing with — the sins in our lives that cast shadows where there should be illumination. Being light for the world demands that we choose to stand out. We must decide to make clear to the world by what we say and do who we belong to and who we are. And it requires that we do this in a way that truly reflects our Lord. We must not be characterized by hostility, impatience, self-righteousness, or pugnacity. We are charged with lighting the darkness with the glory of Jesus, not with the fire of judgment.

There's no doubt that choosing to stand out might sometimes mean, as it did for the Sooner bricklayer, choosing to become a target. It will sometimes be difficult and cause us trouble. To be explicit about our trust in Jesus and his mastery over our lives means that some people will give glory to God when they see our lives. It also means that some will hate us, mock us, and insult us.

Jesus bought us with his life. He set us free by taking our burdens upon his shoulders. Is it too much to ask that we be conspicuous? Is it too much to ask that we let our lights shine?

O U don't think so? Me either.

Shine lights, shine.