Went for a walk yesterday. It was cool, foggy, and bit damp. Visibility wasn't terrible, but it wasn't allowing any bright and clear vistas to be enjoyed. The fog closed off any possibility of panoramic pictures of the Big Valley. I did enjoy the small dreary circle of sight around me. It encompassed a radius of about 50 yards.
Yesterday's fog reminded me of a news article from about a week ago. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette had offered a two or three page expose on what happens when a church closes its doors. It was kind of depressing to read and the photos of deserted churches was chilling. The journalist mentioned several factors for the closings. Current culture moving away from Christian faith communities, poor leadership within the church, and churches simply ceasing to fulfill the mission to minister to outsiders were just a few possible reasons.
A couple compelling things rose to the surface in the read. What would the community surrounding the church miss if the church ceased to exist? Do churches lift the real estate values of other houses and businesses in their community? What is the 'halo effect' of the church in their community? That phrase 'halo effect' has been churning inside of me since I read it.
Yesterday, the limiting factor for my visibility was an external force. The fog diminished visibility and I had to enjoy that which I could see. What if the limiting factor is internal? What if I am responsible for impacting the environment around me? What is my personal halo effect and how positive is it? How large is the radius of my personal halo effect? Are those within earshot of me being blessed by me or are they feeling cursed? Today, this popped up on my Facebook newsfeed and it was timely.
The words are from a popular song by Toby Mac, "Speak Life." It is a certainty that we cannot easily control the external forces around us but we do have a responsibility to control that which emanates within us. Speaking hope, love, and life requires us to understand a few things. God expects humanity to be more than just civil toward each other. God expects humanity to live these three aspects of our shared humanness with others. Yes, even those with whom we disagree.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no
longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A
city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it
on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16, NIV)
Digging a little deeper into the idea of personal 'halo effects' gets us closer to what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and how it is that we should interact with our world. We all change the environment that we inhabit and our presence can be negative or positive.
My prayer time yesterday on the mountain brought me into a closer understanding of the angry world that God has called me to serve. Running the other way is always an option (Jonah). Spewing anger and shouting others down is on the table as well. Neither of these two options offer much hope, love, or life.
Let's make a pact today to live as a compelling image of Jesus Christ so that our 'halo effect' grows in circumference so that many around us sense the presence of God when we are near.