May 28, 2014

The Light of the World

Matthew 5:14-16  "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  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.  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.

Christ proclaims that the church is the light of the world.  Through all time light has penetrated darkness, even from the beginning of creation.  Unlike today though, light was not available at the flip of a switch.  In Christ’s day, when the sun went down so did the ability to accomplish almost anything.  Usually the only light available to illuminate in a home was either one lamp stand that held an oil burning lamp or single candle, or a small fire at the center of the house.   Light was scarce anywhere outside the house though.  Obviously flashlights and headlights had not yet been invented so any travel at night was dangerous, especially as one ventured further from the overlooking light of a city.  There are few places in this world today where one can experience the absence of light like those of Jesus’ day did. 

Even though light is abundant it still serves the same purpose it did in Christ’s day, penetrating the darkness.  Christ calls himself “the light of the world” and those who call him Lord possess that light.  The life and presence of a Christian should literally penetrate the darkness of this world.  Simply the humble existence of authentic Christians should make a profound mark upon the world; even cause many of them to turn to Christ.

In a positive way Christ declares the absurdity of hiding one’s light.  It is impossible to conceal a city upon a hill.  Likewise, it would an outrageous idea for one to mask the light of their home.  To Christ it seems equally absurd for someone who has experienced his life changing redemption to remain silent about it.  Yet, so many Christians today do not share a simple testimony of what he has done for them.  In the average Texas church alone it takes forty church members to lead one person to Christ.  The church is simply being disobedient to the commission that Christ proclaimed before he ascended.

The Christian must live in such a way that he or she reflects the character and nature of Jesus Christ.  The phrase “you are the only Jesus some else will ever know” is not far from the truth.  Not only does Christ command that we proclaim the gospel by word but also by lifestyle; “that they may see your good works and give glory to you father who is in heaven.”  Jesus makes it so very easy for his believers to be effective in the world.  All one has to do is humbly live a life of holiness and Christlikeness and share the gospel when the opportunity arises and he or she will be able to penetrate the darkness of this world.

So how do we accomplish this responsibility of being salt and light?  We must primarily be about the business of its call to be ambassadors of Christ.  We must continue, both corporately and individually, to share the message of Jesus Christ.  We must “do the work of an evangelist.”  The sin of silence and omission must be stopped.  One cannot accept and believe what he has never fully heard and understood.  The more people that come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior the easier it will be to preserve Christian morals.  We have been called to shine our light and penetrate the darkness with the gospel.

Furthermore, as salt, we must “rub” ourselves into the earth by being involved in the world’s affairs.  Moral issues are being decided by elected officials every day in local, statewide, and national government.  The Christian voice must be heard.  Christians have the responsibility of preserving this nation as well as all nations from walking down the road away from God and towards immorality.  By voting, participating in the government processes, being well informed on current issues, and running for office the Christian can actively steer the nation towards Christian morality and Biblical standards.

Most importantly the Christian must actively pursue holiness and build his or her relationship with Christ.  To be effective salt of the earth we must maintain our ‘saltiness.’  Moral impurity and compromising theology simply spoil the preserving and purifying power of our witness.  To be able to shine brightly we must remain close to their source of light.  We must continually grow in his or her knowledge and love of Christ.  We must have the mentality that Paul had when he wrote in Philippians 3:8, 12, 14, 18  

Indeed, I count everything as a loss to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own…I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Finally, the church must not be self-centered with the inconceivable blessings God has bequeathed upon the church.  The Dead Sea offers a good illustration of this.  There will never be a fear of the sea lacking a sufficient amount of incoming water because the Dead Sea remarkably has seven tributaries pouring into it.  The very reason why the sea is so rich in inflowing tributaries is because it lies below sea level.  Unfortunately this is blessing is also its curse.  Because of its low elevation nothing flows out of it.  Subsequently, its density is altered, it has an excessive buildup of salt, and contains unhealthy amount of debris.  These conditions among other make it an obsolete wetland for fish, wildlife, and recreation, thus it is called the Dead Sea because no life exists in it.  An excessive amount of life goes in, but none comes out. 

In many ways the church runs the danger of being likened to the Dead Sea.  It is the very seat of the blessings of God; the bride of Christ.  God has spoken revelation through it and to it.  It has, by the grace and power of God, grown to be one of the wealthiest, most powerful, and largest institutions in the known world, even standing the test of time.  God has called and allowed it to be his very salt and light of this earth.

To say the least, God has blessed His church in tremendous amounts.  Like the Dead Sea it has been the recipient of an excessive amount of life.  But is it distributing as much as it receives?  Are we fulfilling the role God has equipped us to fill?  Are we actively preserving this world and its people from corruption?  Are we properly being the shining light of the gospel that should turn men and women to Christ?  Or have we disobediently horded our wealth and blessings and thereby become an obsolete institution that has lost our effectiveness and voice in a lost and dyeing world?  Even though God is the only one who can properly answer these questions, they must be asked.  We must individually Christian must ask ourselves these questions.  God’s call still stands and Christ’s command still remains.  We are still called to be salt and light, the very instrument that proclaims the reconciliation of Christ.