Friday, August 12, 2016

12 August 2016
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, 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 in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NRSV)
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (NRSV)
“And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” Revelation 21:23 (NRSV)

            Good Morning Well, good afternoon, now. Light is a popular subject in the Bible. An Olive Tree search shows it occurs 265 times in the entire Bible: 188 times in the Old Testament, 77 Times in the New Testament, 44 times in the Prophets, 24 times in Psalms and 42 times in the Gospels. John says Jesus, the manifestation of God’s life, is light for all peoples (John 1:4). The word has the sense of both light and the source of light. Jesus is calling us to His life, and to present it to others.
            This is an important point and goes to the very core of what is expected of us as believers. We are not to be content with hiding our faith away, pulling it out for an hour or two on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening and then going back to our normal behavior. Our new life in Christ is to be our normal behavior, 24/7/365. Jesus longs for disciples; those in whom His life is so firmly established anything else would be abnormal behavior. No amount of time spent reading the Bible and praying every morning (now, don’t get me wrong, these are indeed good things) will do us or anyone else much good if we walk away and forget what we read or asked for and act like we have never been redeemed, never been restored (see James 1:22-25).
            I know this from personal experience, much personal experience. For years I would get up early and read my Bible (which was easy for me) and say my prayers (not always so easy) and walk away pretty much an unchanged man. I would go to work and act just like everyone else. My family could not understand how I could be so nice to my friends at church and so miserable with them. I’m not much for do-overs, but this is one period of my life I wish I could take back. I so totally missed the mark it is embarrassing to this day. But now I can say with Paul ‘thanks be to God through Jesus Christ’, that at this late date I am beginning to see the light (pun intended). And share it, which is what this is all about.         
            In the early days of Christianity, for a time it was popular to shun civilization and go off to the desert in order to be closer to God. To this day some monastic orders spend their days in seclusion and contemplation. There are some who divide life into sacred and secular; an entire subculture has grown up around this way of thinking. We have Christian music, Christian novels, Christian art, Christian schools, specialty Bibles for every imaginable category. Let me say here, in the gentlest but firmest possible way, I do not believe in these types of distinctions. Anywhere God is, is sacred space, holy ground. As the psalmist says, where can we go to flee from His presence?
            I say this to make a case for active engagement with the world around us; the world we live and play and work in, our day to day, hour to hour world. This is the world Jesus is calling us to illuminate, to bring His presence into. This is where we let our light shine before others. And this is why it is so important to focus on discipleship, to practice the Spiritual Disciplines on a regular basis. This is where we place ourselves before God to absorb His light, to allow Him to transform our character. This is what enables us to let our light shine before others not only by what we say but by the example we set. This, as we will see, is the clear teaching of Jesus. And Paul, James, Peter and John. Those guys should know.
            Tomorrow we will look at what it means to glorify God by our good works. In the meantime, perhaps you might spend some time this evening thinking over how you might shine before others. Look at it this way-if you can daydream, you can meditate. Here is a very brief list of verses on light to consider. Isa. 49:6, 58:8, 60:19-20; Jn 1:4-5, 3:19-21; Phi. 2:15; 1 Jn 1:5-7.

May the Lord bless you and keep you this day. JRG

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