“God is the Lord. And He has given us light…” (Psalm 118:27)
Recently, I experienced a confrontational situation. When unforeseen circumstances turned into a heated discussion it resulted in a stranger being degraded and belittled. I made the choice to speak up on behalf of this stranger. It’s not in my character to sit by while someone is being treated poorly, even if it was at the discretion of a friend. Suffice it to say, the person I care about began directing their attention and speaking angrily towards me.
When you’re in a crowd that just witnessed you speak out, you’ve just drawn a line in the sand that there is no turning back from. It is then up to them to either (a) love, respect and accept you for who you are, or (b) choose to dislike you, maybe even hate you for your convictions. Sometimes, just the very core of your beliefs will offend someone. And when we live for Christ, we can expect nothing less. Our Christ like character will stir up anger in another.
If we’re trusting in God with our lives, we will be placed in situations where our faith is being tried. A relationship with someone you love is affected, even being tested because of those convictions you have moments you doubt if you really made the right choice.
In the aftermath of the damage I wondered if I should’ve remained silent. But, the older I become, the easier it becomes to just blend in with the crowd. Distractions and life’s responsibilities prove that it takes much more of a conscious effort to not be like the world around me. There is no time to be silent or wait for another opportunity to speak out.
This month the sermon series at the church I attend is called, “Illuminate”. Allowing God’s light to shine inside of you. Last Sunday’s message hit home for me when he preached on Matthew 5:13-16. I have always feared the disapproval of others. But greater than my fear of others has been my fear of God’s disapproval. If I am too much like that world, what, then, does my worth become? What is my value if I choose to deny the light that Christ has placed inside me? Jesus made the answer clear to us:
“…You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.” ( Matthew 5:13, HCSB version)
Salt has many uses but in the Old Testament it is most often used as purifying agent. Jesus’ disciples are to purify a corrupt world through their example of righteous living and their proclamation of the gospel. However, contaminated salt does not promote purity. The verb translated lose its taste indicates foolish and immoral behavior. It refers to a destruction rather than purification. The verb thrown out describes the disposal of something worthless, and the verb trampled alludes to the treatment an immoral disciple receives from the world.
“You are the light of the world….” (Matthew 5:14)
As Jesus’ disciples we are called to be extensions of His ministry, carrying salvation to the ends of the earth. Such ministry is intrinsic to true discipleship. A disciple should no more conceal his righteous or the gospel message than a glowing city should douse its light at night. Just as a lamp no more permeates a dark room when it is not plugged in to a power source or when it has not been turned on- it is the same when we choose to deny the light Christ has placed in us.
Examples of ways we can hide our light is:
(1) being quiet when we should speak.
(2) going along with the crowd,
(3) denying the light,
(4) letting sin dim our light,
(5) not explaining our light to others, or
(6) ignoring the needs of others.
Jesus came into this world so that no one who believes in Him should remain in darkness. When we choose to put our trust in Him, we inhibit His light. We become bearers of His light. When we are obedient to God, His light illuminates our path. His light makes our crooked paths straight. And as long as we remain faithful to Him, His light remains a continual beacon in our lives.
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “ I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12)
Jesus is “the light” or in using the greek term “phos”. The word phos is often used as a metaphor referring to holiness, purity, or godliness. Jesus used this term on the Sermon on the Mount to describe His disciples and the holy standard of conduct that He expected them to model in the world (Matthew 5:14-16, 6:23). Jesus’ light is true light. His light reveals truth. His light causes the blind to see. His light penetrates the darkness and no darkness can put it out. His light brings about hope and peace.
In learning about God’s light and how His light resides in me, I also learn about ways I try to hide. The times I chose not to speak on behalf of another, or when I stayed silent when I had the chance to share my beliefs with someone else. Each time I allowed sin to take me from God’s path. When I decided not to be who Christ made me to be so I could fit in with the crowd. All of the times I felt I was not equipped enough to take an opportunity that was presented to me because I was too afraid of failing.
The light we have inside of us is showing others what Christ is like. And the choices we make daily determine how brightly that light is shining for all to see. We have so much to offer those around. We are meant to carry out the purposes of God and glorify Him.
What gifting, wisdom, and experiences can I share with others? What am I doing to help and encourage others? Do I speak positivity into the lives of others? Do I adhere to the needs of others? Is it clear to others who I live for?
“Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns.” (Philippians 2:16)