Albedo. It’s not a common word, but it’s a common experience. It has to do with reflectability — an object’s ability to reflect light.
Every night, when the earth has turned away from the sun so that we no longer receive the sun’s rays directly, we still see some of the sun’s light as it is reflected to us by the moon. The moon has no light source of its own. All that we see of it is reflected light from the sun.
Similarly, my desire as a follower of Jesus is not to generate “light” of my own. My desire is to reflect the light of my Lord.
We call this reflected light discipleship or godliness. The closer I follow Jesus as his disciple, the more my life mirrors his, the more my thoughts mirror his, the more my actions mirror his.
I am not a mindless puppet; I am intentionally reflecting the Bright One, the Glorious One.
I am godly not because I have discovered a divine spark inside of myself and am shining my own light on others. I become godly the more I accurately reflect the one is whose image I was made.
Different surfaces reflect more or less light. The earth itself reflects between 30% and 35% of the sun’s light, depending on cloud cover. Freshly fallen snow reflects an amazingly efficient 90% of the sun’s light, which is why it’s so easy to get sunburned on a clear day out on the snow. Green grass reflects a muted 25%; bare soil reflects 17%; new concrete reflects 55%; and desert sand reflects about 40%.
We cannot change the light source. Nor would we want to. Our Lord shines a full 100% of his light upon us. What we can change is how much we reflect his light to the world around us. How bright or dim our lives are depends not on who we are, but on who our God is and how well we reflect his glory.