A Bible Reading: Philippians 2:12-16
My dear friends, as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, "children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation." Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour in vain.
As I cycle along the country lanes around our villages, I am aware of the many different shades of green in the countryside: bright greens, pale greens, dark greens, light greens, yellow-greens and blue-greens. They all blend together and create great beauty, a vast array of greens.
I am also aware that very occasionally, in the grass verges, there is the odd poppy. Bright red. It’s as if it is saying, in the midst of all the green, ‘I’m going to be different, I’m not going to conform to the expected norm, I’m not going to blend into the background, I’m going to be noticed!’ Fragile as they are, limited as the time is that they are in flower, they make a bold statement for beauty and non-conformity.
As Christians, we are called to be different, not in the colour or style of our clothes,
but in the way we live our lives. Different in our language, different in our priorities, different in the way we handle our finances and different in the way we treat other people. Second only to loving God, Jesus says we should love our neighbours as ourselves.
St Paul uses a different metaphor with a similar message. In a vast and dark universe, he says, we are to ‘shine like stars in the sky as we hold firmly to the word of life.’ In the brightness of the daytime sun, the light of the stars is insignificant, but in the dark of night, the light of the stars makes all the difference. As a Christian, you have the light of life within you.
It’s not easy to stand out from the crowd. Take heart from the poppy, fragile and temporal as it is. Make a statement. Be different. Let the light of Christ shine into the darkness around you.
Father God, thank you for the beauty and variety of your creation. In a world that needs to know the love of God, the light of Christ and the life of the Holy Spirit, give me the confidence in you to be different and to reveal your light and beauty to those I meet.