The first time we saw them, we were able to stay in the car and still have a great view, protecting ourselves from the loud booms and hisses. But, last night, we were sitting outside, enjoying the full effect -- sounds and all. Evan has always been bothered by loud noises so he kept his hands by his ears most of the time.
It didn't take long, though, before he realized that the flash of brilliant color and the sounds were not occurring simultaneously. He asked us about this and I explained that it is because light travels faster than sound. After watching a few more, he understood that the boom came after the flash.
There was one particular type of firework that had very little brilliance and flash to it but it had the sharpest sounding crack of all of them. We were all three sort of intrigued by that. That particular firework was, to flip a phrase, "more go than show," leaving us ultimately disappointed by how something so loud could not carry more beauty with it.
The brilliant colors of fireworks are what we remember and what really get our attention. Yet, the reverberating sound a second or so later adds impact and punch. Silent fireworks simply would not have the full effect. They would seem hollow. You would see the beauty but not have as much "meat to the message" so to speak.
Just as light travels faster than sound, so does the beauty and news of God working through us spread faster and have greater memorable impact when it can be seen rather than just when it is talked or written about.
John 13:34-35 (MSG) says: "Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other."
The showing of God's love is so paramount to living the life of a disciple. It is, like the beauty of the fireworks, what people see, remember, and talk about. But, just as fireworks would be sort of hollow without the sound, the world also needs to hear God's word at the same time that they see His love, so that they might better understand His redemptive grace. And, if all they do is hear rather than see, religion itself becomes rather hollow -- more go than show, leaving onlookers disillusioned and with questions.