A Piece of Glass
Glass is funny stuff if you think about it. I was doing just that the other day, thinking about a piece of glass – after I had pulled it from my foot.
From what little I remembered from high school chemistry, glass is a solid you can see through. But why can you see through it? I couldn’t remember so I called David Paul, a professor of chemistry I know, and asked him.
He said that because of the molecular structure of glass, it does not absorb the radiation wavelengths of light that we can see. He also said that by a very strict definition, glass is, in fact, a liquid.
Okay, even after he told me, I’m still not really sure I understand, but you have to admit it is funny stuff. Not only can you see through it, you can build with it and mold it into almost any shape.
You can use it as a tabletop, for windows, for picture frames, and there are even glass scales. It can be wafer thin or so thick it will stop bullets – yet still it’s transparent.
It is this transparency that is most intriguing. Transparent means letting light in. I love being in houses with lots of glass. I like the light. Of course, if you can see out, others can see in – making it a kind of mixed blessing. Most of us like the seeing out part, but aren’t too thrilled with others seeing in. Hence all the cars with the heavily tinted windows.
Metaphorically speaking, most of us like to surround ourselves with glass because we like the insulating quality, and we like to see out without letting others get too close. It makes us feel protected and safe.
I’m certainly not what you’d call a world traveler, but I have spent time in Greece, Brazil, and the island of St. Kitts in the Caribbean. In all three of these countries, the thing that impressed me the most was the absence of glass around the people. They were friendly, open, and forthright – like open windows inviting me to look in. Oh, not everyone, but so many that I couldn’t help but be impressed by their openness. Apparently not everyone needs to have glass in front of him. But even if we do, we can use it to fulfill what Christ has commanded.
A piece of glass, while transparent, is also very reflective. If you’re holding a piece of glass in front of you (outdoors on a sunny day) you can tilt the glass until someone looking at you can no longer see you – only the reflected light of the sun. Almost every one of us, at some time or another, has been behind a car when the sun was reflecting off the back window, blinding us.
Yet if the light is coming from a different angle, we can see inside of the car. This is where Jesus comes in. He tells us to let our light so shine before others that they see the glory of God – not us. In other words, if we are living as Christians, we are using our glass to reflect God’s glory and not our own. If we are not so anxious about getting the credit for what we do – then it’s God who gets the glory.
I am still guilty of occasionally doing good things and then crowing about then. This is wrong. I am working on it, but I did so many bad things for so many years that doing good things isn’t natural to me yet.
You can see that I am not yet holding my piece of glass so that only the light of the Son is reflected all the time. However, I am aware that I am holding a piece of glass, and I am tilting it – I just don’t have the angle quite right yet.
When we are what Christ wants us to be, we eagerly tilt the glass because we want God to have the glory. That’s what we’re really supposed to be about as Christians anyway. We should be about glorifying God and edifying the church. We give God the glory as we build up the people of God, but we cannot do this if we want others to see what we are doing so that we get the credit.
We all know someone who reflects only the glory of God, so we know it can be done. I have met people from Greece to Gravette who do just that, and I want to be like them. I think we all really do. We just have to tilt our glass a little more.
And while I am still not sure if I completely understand why I can see through the glass, I completely understand how to use it to reflect the glory of God. So do you. We need to heed that athletic footwear commercial: “Just do it.” Amen.