This beautiful bird is an indigo bunting. It’s brown. I know it doesn’t look brown, it looks brilliant blue. It isn’t blue. I hear what you’re saying—it looks blue, it’s even named indigo which is a shade of blue. But the bird is not blue, nor is it indigo. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology the bird is almost solid brown.
Let me explain. You probably are aware color comes in two forms. One is the color formed by pigment. When we paint a house, we cover it in a thin layer of pigment. Whatever color the pigment is, is the color people see.
The other form of color, is the color of light. When I was a kid we had a silver Christmas tree and a color wheel that we shined on it. A spotlight shined through a plastic disk made up of different colors. The light shining through took on the color of the wheel and then it changed the tree from appearing silver to red, or green or whatever.
The indigo bunting has brown pigment. But it also has a remarkable ability to reflect blue light. If you happen to see it in very dim light or if you get the opportunity to look through a feather with light from behind, you will see it is brown. This ability of birds to reflect a different color is called sheen and it can be the most important clue to identify a bird.
Those who know Christ as Savior should have a very similar experience. We know the truth of Scripture describing us all as sinners. But because of the forgiveness, grace and glory of God working in us we can reflect His light to our world. It’s never about who we are, without Him we are like the brown feathers of the indigo bunting. However with Him we are like the brilliant blue reflecting feathers. We can be radiant, not because of our inherent ability, but because of God’s brilliance at work in us.
Consider Ephesians 5:8 (NLT) “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!”