do what you do

I listened to a sermon this morning from a friend of mine.  He talked about being the salt and the light.  He gave an illustration about Ben Franklin in Philadelphia in the late 1700’s.  Most of you know Franklin had lots of ideas and is credited with many inventions.  He had an idea to put up street lights in Philadelphia.

Since electricity was quite a time away, they used oil lamps for light.  (Last year in New Bedford MA I learned about whaling in that time, and how they used whale oil as lantern oil, but back to my point.)  In the sermon my friend said Franklin could have gone to the city council or the ‘right people’ in the community to try to convince the city to put up street lights.  He had a better idea.

He built a post with a hook on it and placed it in front of his house.  He hung an oil lamp on it and lit it every evening as darkness arrived.  People in the neighborhood began to gather under the light in the evenings.  Before long, one by one the neighbors started putting up their own lamp posts with their own oil lamps hanging on them.  And as you might have guessed by now, the streets of Philadelphia were soon aglow at night.

What a great illustration.  People are often convinced more by what they see than what they hear.  I am always aware that what they see in me has a direct bearing on my credibility as I preach the Gospel on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings.  What they see in you may help your friends decide if a life as a Christian makes any difference.  If our non-Christian friends see no evidence that Jesus makes any difference in our lives, then why would they ever want Jesus for themselves?  And take it from me, I know none of us can live up to the picture-perfect Christian.  But there’s some obvious difference between us and the world.  Let that little light shine.

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