“Jesus wants me for a sunbeam” was one of the first Sunday school songs I ever learned. (If you have never had the pleasure of singing it, try google.) It called us all to shine for Jesus each day, to please Him “at home, at school, at play”. I wonder if Katy Perry learned this song in Sunday school? Daughter of an evangelist/pastor in California, Katy Perry grew up as part of her parents’ ministry, singing in church from age 9 to 17. She grew up listening to gospel music and was not allowed to listen to secular songs. And despite her recent liftestyle choices and the song lyrics which shout about things that would deny the God of her childhood, His truth comes shining through (at times), possibly despite her intentions.
Perhaps you already know what I’m talking about? Perry’s song “Firework” is her self-confessed favourite from the album ‘Teenage Dream’ (2010). When you check out the lyrics you could be mistaken for thinking this was a song that called Christians to remember that they are a unique creation, called to “shine like stars” in the darkness of this generation. Here is a sampling of the lyrics:
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you, ‘Cause there’s a spark in you
You just gotta ignite the light, and let it shine, Just own the night like the 4th of July
‘Cause baby you’re a firework, Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh” As you shoot across the sky-y-y
Baby, you’re a firework, Come on, let your colours burst
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh”, You’re gonna leave ’em all in “awe, awe, awe”
You don’t have to feel like a wasted space, You’re original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds . . .
Perry says of this song: “Now, people are coming back and almost adopting it as their own anthem . . . I hope this could be one of those things where it’s like, ‘Yeah, I want to put my fist up and feel proud and feel strong. . . and I think ‘Firework’ … would be like the opus or my one song — if I had to pick a song to play — ’cause it has a great beat. But it also has a fantastic message.”
God’s truth bleeds through this song, as it proclaims that we are unique beings, the intentional creation of a loving all-powerful Creator. Amen to that! But what she has needs to know is that our potential to “shine” comes from outside of us. It’s not “deep inside of you“, as Perry says, waiting for us to ignite it. Our “full potential” is realised when we make peace with God, through Christ, and He enters into our life. We become His children, heirs of the promise, co-heirs with Christ. He puts his Spirit in us, the “spark” which begins to restore us according to God’s original design. God’s spark is what makes us see our true worth, and changes the way we live our lives and interact with others, for their good. We can only shine out the likeness of His character if He is in us. We can shine out the family likeness only if our Father is God. Here is the way we are to “shine”:
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.” (Philippians 2:14-16)
If you are looking for a great ‘church’ song, produced by Sydney Anglicans which sums up the essence of this verse, try looking at EMU music for the song “The Light” by Nicky Chiswell (2000). It has been a real encouragement for many years in our church. Keep shining!