Go Ahead, Light Up!
14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Mt 5:14-16 NIV)
* My friend Dorothy spent several weeks in prayer and special training to lead a Bible discussion group. Finally the big day arrived for the first class. Getting her family of six out the door was more hectic than usual that morning. Breakfast didn't turn out right and several arguments were going on among the children. Dorothy, quickly getting frazzled, tried to regain her composure. In the midst of the bedlam, her husband entered the kitchen and surveyed the uproar.
"Kids! Settle down!" he admonished. "Your mom has only 45 minutes until she has to become a radiant Christian."
-- Roseanne Hill, Cedar Crest, NM, Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."
See: Ps 34:5; Da 12:3; 2 Co 3:18.
I. Be a Radiating Light, With The Intensity Meant For Self Disclosure
A. An Influential Presence
* You know what your own country is like. I'm a visitor, and I wouldn't presume to speak about America. But I know what Great Britain is like. I know something about the growing dishonesty, corruption, immorality, violence, pornography, the diminishing respect for human life, and the increase in abortion.
Whose fault is it? Let me put it like this: if the house is dark at night, there is no sense in blaming the house. That's what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is, "Where is the light?"
If meat goes bad, there is no sense in blaming the meat. That is what happens when the bacteria are allowed to breed unchecked. The question to ask is, "Where is the salt?"
If society becomes corrupt like a dark night or stinking fish, there's no sense in blaming society. That's what happens when fallen human society is left to itself and human evil is unrestrained and unchecked. The question to ask is "Where is the church?"
-- John Stott, "Christians: Salt and Light," Preaching Today, Tape No. 109.
See: Mt 5:13-16; Da 12:3; Jn 5:35; Pr 11:11, 14:34
B. An Intentional Presence
* Watching a trapeze show is breathtaking. We wonder at the dexterity and timing. We gasp at near-misses. In most cases, there is a net underneath. When they fall, they jump up and bounce back to the trapeze.
In Christ, we live on the trapeze. The whole world should be able to watch and say, "Look how they live, how they love one another. Look how well the husbands treat their wives. And aren't they the best workers in the factories and offices, the best neighbors, the best students?" That is to live on the trapeze, being a show to the world.
What happens when we slip? The net is surely there. The blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ, has provided forgiveness for "all" our trespasses. Both the net and the ability to stay on the trapeze are works of God's grace. Of course, we cannot be continually sleeping on the net. If that is the case, I doubt whether that person is a trapezist.
-- Juan Carlos Ortiz in As I Have Loved You. Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 4.
See: Titus 2:7; 1 Th 1:8; Mt 5:16
C. An Irrefutable Presence
* You and I are to be such that as we walk up and down the streets of life, people will be struck and attracted. You have seen them turn and look at a well-dressed person. ... They should be struck by us, and look at us, and think, "What is this person? I have never seen anybody quite like this before!" ...
That is the kind of people we can be and the kind of people that we must be. And when we become such people, believe me, the revival we are longing for will start, and the people outside, in their misery and wretchedness, will come in and will want to know about it.
-- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Growing in the Spirit. Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 3.
* We ought to be Christians in large type, so that it would not be necessary (for others) to be long in our society, or to regard us through spectacles, in order to detect our true discipleship. The message of our lives should resemble the big advertisements which can be read on the street-boardings by all who pass by.
-- F. B. Meyer in Our Daily Walk. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 10.
II. Be a Reaching Light, With The Intention Of Maximum Exposure
A. Made To Shine Outwardly
* Many believers are "rabbit hole" Christians. In the morning they pop out of their safe Christian homes, hold their breath at work, scurry home to their families and then off to their Bible studies, and finally end the day praying for the unbelievers they safely avoided all day.
-- Jan Johnson in Moody Monthly (Nov. 1987). Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 8
B. Made To Shine Brightly
* It's tough to be in the dark and not let the dark get in you. The unending struggle for the Christian is to walk in the light and at the same time keep moving into the shadows.
--Tim Goble in World Christian, March/April 1988. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 1.
* People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out. But in the darkness, beauty is seen only if there is a light within.
-- Unknown, Leadership, Vol. 1, no. 2.
C. Made To Shine Extensively
- “Light of the world,” and “everyone in the house” mark out the boundaries of our light. There are none.
III. Be a Revealing Light, With The Illumination Of A Godly Nature
A. God Paraded Before The Population
*Take heed to yourselves also because there are many eyes upon you. So there will be many who observe your fall. If you miscarry, the world will also echo with it. It is the same as the eclipses of the sun in broad daylight--they are seldom without witnesses.
--Richard Baxter in The Reformed Pastor. Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 2.
B. God Personified In Imitation
* Have you ever wondered why clocks run clockwise? Before there were clocks, there were sundials. In the northern hemisphere, the shadows on the sundial rotate in the direction we now call clockwise, and the hands of the clock mimic the natural movements of the sun. So too our lives should imitate the Son of God.
-- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
See: Rom 8:9-11; Eph 2:10; Eph 5:1
* There are four ways in which substances react to light. Some are transparent. The light passes through them. Some are translucent. They scatter the light. Some are opaque. They bar the light. Some are like mirrors. They reflect the light. We want to be mirrors, reflecting the light.
-- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
See: Psa 96:2; Matt 5:14-16; 28:19; Acts 1:8; Phil 2:14-15; 2 Tim 4:5
*Lord, shine in me and so be in me that all with whom I come in contact may know thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus.
Citation: John Henry Newman, Leadership, Vol. 8, no. 2
C. God Praised At His Identification
* God is looking for men in whose hands his glory is safe.
-- A. W. Tozer, Leadership, Vol. 3, no. 3.
* The glory of God, and, as our only means to glorifying him, the salvation of human souls, is the real business of life.
-- C.S. Lewis, Christian Reader, Vol. 31.
* We were hiking in the mountains out West when I saw the stone--a small one, about the size of a half-dollar, with smooth rounded edges. Ordinarily I would have passed it by, not being a rock hound. It would have remained there for another thousand years perhaps, a mere pebble among the larger stones on the trail. But this one instantly caught my eye. It was special. Glinting in the sunlight, it seemed to reflect all the surrounding colors, as though trying to mirror nature. Into my pocket went the rare find. All the way home to the East Coast I thought about where I should display it so its beauty could be most enjoyed. I finally placed it in a curio cabinet, next to some jade and carved ivory. I forgot it for a while. Then one day, while dusting, I was surprised to see that the stone had completely lost its luster. It sat on the shelf among the other lovely objects, a hard, gray chunk of nothing, downright ugly. I was shocked. What had happened to the prize I had so carefully brought back with me across the continent? Where was the sparkle and the colors that had attracted me so much? Disgusted, I snatched it up and started for the trash can in the backyard. Then, just as I opened the kitchen door, a beam of light struck the stone. As though by magic, it began to shimmer, to glow again. In an instant the beautiful jewel tones shone brilliantly. Had they returned? Or had they always been there, dormant, waiting to be released? Wondering, I glanced up at the sky. Sunlight? That was the answer. The rays from the sun were all my stone needed to come alive. How much like each of us! Of ourselves our lives are empty, colorless, without meaning. Only when we are touched by the glory of God is our inner beauty revealed.
*As a child I heard a memorable story at a holiness revival meeting in New York. It seems a certain missionary, home on leave, was shopping for a globe of the world to take back to her mission station. The clerk showed her a reasonably priced globe and another one with a light bulb inside. "This is nicer," the clerk said, pointing to the illuminated globe, "but of course, a lighted world costs more."
--Leonard Sweet, Aqua Church (Group Publishing, 1999); submitted by Bonne Steffen