Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Be a Light

Have you ever thought about this text?

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)


This text is usually thought of as a task for the church. The church is a city on a hill and has to let its light shine. I fear that this way of looking at this text has diminished a lot of good works and left a lot of our culture in darkness. When Jesus taught this, he was speaking to individuals as part of a community. In other words, the church is only the sum total of individuals that are part of it. So the "church" can't really do anything. Only those individuals who make up the church can do good works and let lights shine.

So when Jesus said these things, he was speaking to - YOU. You let YOUR light shine. You let YOUR good works be seen. YOU bring glory to God by your lifestyle. But there's more. Folks aren't going to hear how sweet you speak to your wife if you never have anyone around when you talk. No one's going to hear how firm, yet fair you are with your children if you keep them cloistered away at home. No one's going to see your right living that flows from the gospel if you never leave the Main Street Monastery. Nobody is going to glorify God for works they don't see YOU doing. So this text is incredibly missional. You have a job to do in the world. You can't pass it off to other people or some vague entity called "church." And if people are going to see your light, be amazed by your lifestyle, you're going to have to invite them into it. Period.

There's simply no other way to be a follower of Jesus except for in public. Jesus said this as well. "Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven" (Mat. 10:33). Okay, so you've never technically denied Jesus before men. Someone has never come up to you and asked, "Do you deny Jesus before me?" And you've never said to that person, "No! Of course I don't deny Jesus before you!" But is that what Jesus meant by saying that? Of course not. Because before he warned against denying him, he said this: "Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven" (Mat. 10:32). So it's not enough to not deny. You must acknowledge.

It does little practical good for two Christian spouses to sit at home, staring at each other, acknowledging Christ to one another. Will they be rewarded? "Good job, faithful servant! You sat in your holy huddle and didn't deny me. Enter the joy of your Lord." I'm sure you'll agree that the point Jesus was making was the public acknowledgement of Jesus before those who don't follow him. Read the whole chapter, and you'll see that Jesus was talking about withstanding persecution.

So Christian couples need to open up their homes, their lives, their hearts to people all around them that don't follow Jesus. This is where hospitality is so important. How many missionaries does a church have? The ones they sent to Bora Bora? What about the ones sent to Wal-Mart? The ones sent to Whirlpool? The ones sent to high school? The ones sent to the dentist and the drive in and the deli and the door of neighbors? Be a light by living right in someone's sight.

2 comments:

Janal said...

Can I just say , that I think that I am Walmart's missionary! God sends me there quite often! Joke! :}
But, I totally agree! How will people know unless we tell them?
Their are many nice/good people in this world! What makes us any different? How will people know?
Unless, we speak of the Hope we have within us, and our purpose for being here in the first place.

Darby Livingston said...

Janal,

Right on.