When I meet Christians who are infatuated with their own depravity because it supposedly puts God on display, I often wonder what they do with certain Bible passages. You’ve met them often enough. They have a “Get out of the Way” theology. They appropriately fear self-righteousness and pride in their faith. They rightly want to be humble, deny themselves and give God all the glory. They mistakingly conclude, however, that they need to get out of the way in order for God to be seen in their lives.
The obvious problem with “Get out of the Way” theology is that God himself has placed us “in the way” on purpose to be his living, breathing signposts pointing others to Him. As God’s “image bearers” we are intended to reflect and display God’s glory in our lives. And, what do we do with Jesus’ little lesson about letting our light shine before men? We are lights, and we are clearly told to place our “life lights” on a stand in order to let them shine brightest. We are warned against hiding our lives under a basket.
Jesus is saying in effect, “Your lives, when aligned to my Kingdom will and purposes, puts me on display; so DO NOT get out of the way.” Those who believe God shines brightest when we get out of the way have forgotten our primary role for existence. We are God’s image-bearers. We are the light of the world.
Swapping metaphors for a moment, every human being is a signpost pointing in some direction and proclaiming some message. Followers of Jesus are God’s signposts intended to let our lives, relationships, values and character point others to God. God has us placed on all the busiest intersections of life, and wants our lives’ message to read “True Life found in God”, “Freedom Found in Christ”, “Only Jesus Saves”, “God Forgives ALL your Sins”, “Eternity Matters”, and more. “Get out of the Way” theology makes as much sense as hiding a “Stop Sign” in the bushes. Signs are meant to be put on display. Paul told the Christians in Corinth that “Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:2-3 The Message).
So, let us get rid of “Get out of the Way” thinking, and recapture our high calling to be God’s signposts pointing others to Him. Our concern should be what kind of light do we shine, what message does our life proclaim, and to whom does our sign’s arrow point. Echoing Paul, if God is writing on our life’s canvas with His living Spirit, then we should be getting ourselves “in the way” so every one can see the God who is at work in our life. Jesus said it first:
You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16 The Message).