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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Am I the Light Which Leads Others to Glorify God?

I ride a bicycle to work many days. I do it for exercise, the environment and enjoyment. On the way home I often listen to novels. I think of what the Lord has for me on the way to work.

Many motorists are distracted as they drive. They fail to stop and look both ways when taking a right on red and at stop signs. I have to avoid being hit by these motorists almost every day. I have screamed at many of them. I have slapped the sides of their vehicles and rapped on their windows. I have challenged them to come back and settle our dispute. I have said it loud enough  that they can hear even if their windows are up. Shoot, I have said it loud enough that it could be heard in Milwaukee! Yes, I have even called them names.

My wife says that these people will probably show up on the front row of the church the following week as visitors. I told her that they will never recognize me. My riding apparel keeps me pretty well disguised. That's really not the point; is it?

God has not called me to point out the sins of others. That's the responsibility of the Holy Spirit. I may speak of sin and it may cause people to fall under conviction but my yelling does little more than to make people angry. That not only applies when I ride a bicycle but how I live my life.

God has called me to live a life with such a goodness that it will be noticed. Love should pour out of me to each person I encounter. Grace should be my character. It should be that those who are doing wrong want to change the wrong that they are doing because the light in me reveals the wrong in them.

That doesn't mean that I won't preach on sin. I believe that the church is the place for that. We are called to judge those in the church. We are called to hold each other accountable. We must point out sin and call it evil.

But when I walk out into the world that doesn't know Jesus I must exhibit His goodness. I have to be so different in grace that the world thinks of me as peculiar. I need to be both attractive and convicting in this goodness.

I served with a very godly pastor a few years ago. He got up each morning and prayed fervently for his family and the congregation. He held long prayer meetings monthly. During those times his prayers revealed a deep love for the Lord and a purity that I have never seen in any other. I remember one of them members of the church telling me that she just felt like she needed to confess her sins each time she was in his presence. Now, I know he never asked for that. He just had that character which made you feel like you were physically in the presence of the Lord.

That's the kind of light that I need to have.

Lord Jesus, I pray that your light shines through me so clearly that the world can see you. Amen.

Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 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.


Anthony Chia said...

Matt 5:14a - you are the light of the world.

Scripture in 1 John 1:5 said God is light, in Him there is no darkness. Heb 12:29, quoted by Ps Prentis, in a recent blog entry, God is a consuming fire. Light in this context is holiness; and so, darkness, evil or wickedness. We also have this, 1 John 1:7 - "...if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."

From all of these, we can see the picture is that we, when we turn to be a believer, coming from a sinner state, meaning there was darkness in us, that darkness is being consumed but we are not; we have turned to be a light bearer, able to remain in the light, and "glow with it".

The picture is like that of those "glow plastics pieces" that glow in the dark after they are exposed to light (the shop sells them in various shapes like star or animal shapes which we can place in our children's room so that they glow in the night after the light is switched off). In the light, the "glow piece" does not stand out, but they are glowing alright; it is just that the light all around "masks" it. But when the light is switched off or when we placed this previously exposed glow piece into a dark room or place, it glows; it has become the light for the place. It has taken the character of that which worked on it, previously - light.

We, on turning to be a believer, take on light, not destroyed by the light but become light; we turn to be a light bearer; we bear the light, and in darkness, we become the light. The world is with much darkness, and when we, who have become light bearers, when we are in the dark world, we ought to stand out - light of the world.

One of the points of the text, Matt 5:14-16, is that we are NOT meant to isolate ourselves from the pre-believers. Jesus put it as we are no longer the world, but still in the world. If we isolate ourselves, though we are light, we would NOT be light of the world. Jesus is the Light of the world; we as His disciples are to be light of the world.

The other point, though NOT directly from the Matt 5:14-16, but can be gleaned from the scriptures quoted above, is that, like the glow piece which needs to be put back into the light, so that it can continue to glow brightly, we need to also be in the light so that any darkness that we may take on, from contact with the dark world will be consumed by the Light, so that our light can be bright, not marred.

Light is holiness, and light is God, and holiness is God and God is holiness. How bright a light are you? Will men glorify God on seeing the light of you?

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Craig Godfrey said...

Hmmm interesting.
True, we should watch ourselves in the world, as the world is watching us, waiting for us to slip up, so that they can point the finger and say 'Aha! And you call yourself a Christian!'.

So long as it is equally balanced by evangelism. The world isn't going to fall to their knees in repentance to God because we said nice things (or didn't say horrible things) to them.

Quote: "That doesn't mean that I won't preach on sin. I believe that the church is the place for that.".
I disagree with the latter part of this statement, as it doesn't square up with scripture. Paul said:
"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom 10:14-15).
Preaching the gospel includes a good healthy dose of exposing sin, as it leads to godly repentance. Without it, grace cannot abound.
Preaching on sin in church is absolutely necessary, yes, but equally, or even more so, in the world.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." (Rom 1:16).
I admire those street preachers that don't care what the world thinks about them. They get labelled 'judgemental', even though all they are doing is exposing peoples' self-righteousness. To do otherwise is to please man, not God.

But I guess I' just one of those crazy evangelicals!


Prentis McGoldrick said...

1 Corinthians 5:12 (NIV)
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

Craig Godfrey said...

You're not judging them, you are telling them how God will judge them (or has already pronounced judgement) if they don't change.

Don't feel the need to defend God's judgement - His justice does not embarrass Him.
And don't be swayed by liberal believers who try and persuade you to win the masses over by getting them to 'like' Jesus. The gospel is either foolish, offensive, or saving. I see no category for 'nice'.

Sorry if I sound blunt, but this is something I am passionate about!

Prentis McGoldrick said...

It is impossible to preach the full word of God without declaring what is right and what is wrong. I do not seek to tell those outside the church that they are wrong. The Word will do that for me. I can tell them what the Word says- nothing more.
My problem is that the church has so often sought to point out the sins outside the church without looking within. The Word of God is plain. We are to deal with those inside the church. We are to proclaim Jesus to the outside.

Craig Godfrey said...

I think we are saying the same thing in a roundabout way. I do not have a problem telling the world they are wrong, by using The Word, but in a more 'in your face' way. But I stand behind God's judgement, not my own.

I guess as a Pastor your first role is to shepherd your flock so that would be why you feel the need to tend to their needs first. I am not a Pastor, more of an evangelist, so I approach things a bit differently.

The good news is that God can use both of us to His glory!