Time to Shine (Part 2)
The following is Part 2 in a continuing series of posts sharing the message I preached this past Sunday, tying in the need for missions with the patriotic themes that go along with celebrating the 4th of July. Look for more posts to round out this series in manageable bite sizes.
Based on the text found in Matthew 5:14-16, the question I have posed is this: how can we as believers in the 21st Century get back to that missionary mindset that is so central to our new life in Jesus? How can we shine the light of Christ to the masses all around us and be that brilliant city upon a hill? This is the main point I want us to learn:
As sold-out believers, we can radiate the light of the Gospel by recognizing the fundamental properties of light that should govern our lives.
Our identity as believers is now inseparably tied to the idea that our lives should shine brilliantly as a result of our calling. Peter wrote the following in 1 Peter 2:9:
[1 Peter 2:9]
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (ESV)
We were lost prior to Christ, groping around in the dark, completely hopeless of any relief or rescue from our condition. But rescue did come! Jesus extended His mercy to us and now we have experienced His unbelievable love. That should change us deep inside. That should compel us to want to share what we have now. That should begin to fan the flame inside us that will lead us to radiating the Light of the Gospel to this world. The first fundamental property of light we need to examine is this:
1. Darkness always exists in an absence of Light.
Isn’t it true that we live in a day and age when we take light for granted? Technology has helped ensure that we never have to be in the dark. At night, we just assume the streetlights will come on and automatically light up our road. We just expect that when we walk into a dark room and flip a switch, light will greet us in an instant. And when it doesn’t turn on, we know there is something wrong and we act accordingly. Think about it, when a lamp in your house doesn’t turn on, you know that the bulb is out and it must be replaced.
Yet, when our light fails to shine in our lives because we try to hide it or stifle it, we do not think anything of it. We do not realize anything is wrong. But something is very wrong: we are plunging ourselves and those around us unnaturally into the shadows. The definition of darkness is pretty simple and straight-forward: darkness is the absence of light. Where the light does not shine, darkness exists. And darkness exists all around us because we do not take the call to light up this world seriously. That is not what Jesus wants for this world. He made it clear that He wants to bring an end to the darkness in our lives. In John 12:46 he said this:
46 “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” (ESV)
Jesus Christ came into this world to fulfill the Father’s plan to redeem us from the darkness of our sin. Once we accepted Christ into our hearts, we now have a duty to be a spotlight for God to aim at those hiding in the dark. The world thinks that if it can’t see God, if it pretends He does not exist, that He will have no clue about the evil deeds that they commit. But God not only knows their sin, He desires to find the lost, and we are the extension of His Light to stave off the darkness. Christ made it abundantly clear in Matthew 5 that it is absurd to light a candle and then hide it so you can’t see its light. It is equally absurd for us to ignite with the flame of salvation, and then try to hide that from the world. In doing so, we lose our purpose and our meaning. In 2 Corinthians 4, the Apostle Paul brings a warning of the danger we all run when we begin to stop shining.
[2 Corinthians 4:3, 6]
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.
6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (KJV)
Those are sobering words. When we fail to shine, it is the people who are lost who are hurt most by our failure. It is pure selfishness on our part. We have to remember the reason we are called to shine in the first place. The darkness is where the light is needed most, to bring all to a saving knowledge of Jesus as Savior. We cannot allow there to be darkness because of our own personal absence of light. We radiate boldly, which relates to the second fundamental property of light that we will look at tomorrow.