Yet each appears separate from the next.
The thing is, if you concentrate not on the flame but on the light, if the light, ie lighting up a new area is actually the whole purpose, then it is a GOOD thing when the glow from two little sparks crosses over.
No spark can take glory for being the source of illumination, when all that matters is that there is more illumination. Kind of like a hundred fireflies in a jam jar - its pointless saying one fly is brighter or more special than the next, in fact the only thing to do is marvel at the quality of the light, express awe at nature herself; the total, not the individual, although each is essential and special as part of the whole.
Lets face it, if any one of those fireflies had actually begun life hoping for recognition for trying harder, for glowing brighter or more righteously, or simply for being fatter or born in a better part of the swamp than others in the jar - he or she would be
I was going to paint that picture, but then I got involved in checking my facts.
See Jesus is a very handy fella (don't puke yet, let me make my point) - most religions recognise him as a prophet, most people with a philosophy but no 'religion' (ie nothing involving a deity) would still claim many of his sayings, pointing out that he must have been spiritualist, or in tune with the principles of NLP, or walking around using myofascial healing (or other such); on account of how, compared against all of these realities, his words still make (common) sense.
Truth is like that - you can get your knickers in a twist about where truth comes from and what it means about the unseen nature of the universe, but you just cant argue that its not true.
Anyway, theres this Jesus bloke and he's talking.
Christians forget that he never once addressed his words to them, as a faction, (they didnt exist yet). He didnt often address just Jews either, especially not when he faced a crowd. Syrians, Romans, all sorts were milling about. His country was under occupation, as were the ones in the surrounding area - communications were wide open and cultures mixed, and lets face it a floor show is a floor show. Some bloke the neighbours said could do magic is worth a look, irrespective of religion.
So you have to face the fact that when he addressed the multitude in Matthew 5, even waiting for the disciples to be seated, in a pointed 'you too' kind of a way, and said 'You are the light of the world', he meant people. Not Christians, not Jews, just people. Families with their packed lunch hoping to see a bit of a show. The local police there to make sure nothing kicked off. The bored yobby youths there hoping that something would kick off. The intellectuals, the religously pious, the ones that had a vested interest in playing spot the loony fake messiah (they got through a few of those and they always made a mess). Mostly the aforementioned families, and desperate people with no money for doctors (no jobs, no income, bit of a BO problem - you get the picture). But he said it to every single one. You are the light of the world.
We have the power to light up this earth, or to segregate our wisdom, our healing gift, our version of the truth - to encase it in a 'measuring basket' so it lights just so much 'select area' and no more.
How many of us want to shine fiercely and true, to make a difference in this world and be part of the solution?
How many shone once and got looked at funny, or ostracised, and now keep hope and imagination and sparkle as something to hide?
How many of us want to put in a few walls, for fear that our light might be tainted by the light from the candle next door? Or fear that onlookers might praise God for the 'wrong' light? Or fear that we have no business shining in the first place?
How many more desperately want to be magical, special, separate, so keep their light as a (well advertised) holy secret, or one where a potential viewer must pay an admission charge?
You are the light of the world and the salt of the earth (or at very least you are made in the image of God and you have the capacity to be those things, I can't see from here if you are shining or not). So, however, is the soul next door; the one with the weird religion, the one at work that smells, the one that was drunk on the bus stop this morning and the stupid one that you sometimes laugh at. So was the guy up the road that died in his flat and never got found for weeks.
And so am I.
And if all that makes you feel a little crowded, like your space is being invaded, well hey, I guess you feel comfy under a 'measuring basket (bushel) after all, even if you never knew it was there.