A mild bit of lunar-mania hit the media this past week with the appearance of a so-called "super-moon." It's not any bigger in size, but closer than usual in orbit to the earth, which gives the illusion of being bigger. It reminds me of something I heard may years ago about the relationship of the sun, moon, and earth.
An important mentor gave a message when I was a young man and believer. He’s now with the Lord, but the illustration stays fresh in my mind after many years.
God has an intended purpose for the moon as an illustration of the role of the church.
The sun represents the Lord Jesus, the moon symbolizes the church, and the earth represents people in this world. The sun is our source of light (and heat!) and its light reflects upon the moon, and the moon’s light reflects upon the earth.
The moon has no light of its own, it simply reflects the sun’s light. The moon is (generally) only visible during the night as the earth and moon move through the heavens, in their own orbits, and their own rotations.
The moon's strongest reflection of the sun most is during its full moon phase. Its beauty upon the earth or the water is extraordinary, and it's brightness fills the night.
In the mid-seventies, our family lived in the low desert of Southern California at a retreat center out in the sticks. I should say, cactus. When it was a full moon, I would sometimes drive our car a little ways with the headlights off. It was fun! The kids loved it, but after a while my wife would prevail upon me to turn the headlights back on.
In the book of Genesis, in the account of Creation on the fourth day (Gen 1:14-19), lights were created and put into the heavens.
These lights were the sun, moon and stars, and were created for particular purposes. The primary purposes being as signs for seasons, days and years, and to preside or rule over the day and night. The sun over the day and the moon over the night. An additional purpose was to “separate the light from the darkness.”
Jesus expressed this when He described believers as a city upon a hill (Matthew 5:14-16). He told the apostles, and other disciples, they were to be His witnesses upon the earth to the people of this world (Acts 1:8).
So the purpose of the church is fairly simple—reflect the light of the Lord to people in the world, whoever they are and wherever they are.
As the moon reflects the sun's light, we (believers) are to reflect the Lord's light—His truth and grace.
So, are we (the church) reflecting the light of God, or the light of the world’s culture, values, opinions, etc.?
In short, is it the Lord’s light we are reflecting or the world’s? Who’s influencing who and at what cost?
I’m reminded of several verses where Paul exhorts believers to become–
Blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.... (Phil 2:15-16)
The illustration of the sun, moon, and stars, as signs, is symbolic. But life is not. An honest assessment of our own life, as believers, needs to answer the questions posed earlier, as well as, the following ones.
God is faithful, but will we be faithful to Him and His purposes? Will we reflect the Lord’s light?
Of course, it's not always that simple. Reality, day-to-day life, has a way of challenging our intentions and commitments.
So, what gets in the way of the Lord’s light reflecting through us? What do we allow in our lives to shine in His place? Is this an infrequent or common occurrence? What will keep it from becoming frequent? And... are we (you and me) even aware of it?
God hasn't called us to be super-moons, just reflectors of His kindness and goodness, and His truth and love, as we interact with people in simple ways each day.