I preached today here in Saskatoon at my home church, Westside Pentecostal. (The sermon can be found online here in the coming week.) And it was a timely word, a word worth turning into a blog post. And here’s why I think it’s worth turning into a blog post: We all want to know our life has a purpose and to know we can make a difference in our world – and I believe we can!
Today we focussed on answering these five questions, and for the sake of keeping this post at a reasonable length, I’m just going to use the questions as section breaks.
Why Can’t You Be Shady?
Um..that’s really simple to answer but oh so easy for us to forget! The bottom line is this: you can’t be shady because light was meant to illumine (give insight into; expose ). The scripture teaches us that Jesus is the light and that He came into this world to show us the way. (Jn 12: 44-46)
Why Do You Need to Shine?
THE most important reason you need to shine is that Jesus said so!
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14–16, NLT)
In other supporting scriptures for this truth, we find that Jesus spoke against a lit lamp being put under a basket, bed, or bowl (Mk 4.21; Lk 8:16).
In the Ancient Near East (ANE), light was understood in the following ways:
- Light was a common symbol for truth.
- God’s chosen people, the Israelites, were to be a light for the Gentiles. (Is 49:6)
- A lamp was put on a stand as it was always meant to be visible. It was a daily necessity. AND it was beneficial for all those in its’ vicinity.
- For the most part, lanterns were very small and could fit in the palm of your hand.
- Jesus called himself the light of the world and said that whoever follows him will have the light of life and won’t have to walk in darkness. (Jn 8:12)
You see, as followers of Christ we are bringing Jesus with us wherever we go. John R. Stott would say “we are not to conceal the truth we know or the truth of what we are. We are not to pretend to be other than we are, but be willing for our Christianity to be visible to all.”1
How Do You Grow Your Brightness?
1. Get to know Jesus. How? By regularly reading the Bible and by being in a community where the people of God gather. Jesus said “for where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” And Paul also teaches us that we are not to forsake the gathering together. (Mt 18:20; Heb 10:25)
2. Pay attention to what you allow your eyes to see. (Lk 11:33-36)
3. Pay attention to the motives of your heart. Ask yourself, Am I focussed on shining Christ? What messages am I sending with the decisions I’m making?
“Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.” (Psalm 26:2, NLT)
4. Get to know TRUTH. And when you receive it, live it. Knowing the truth will allow you to stand firm, no matter what. God want you to have his strength! (Ephesians)
5. Let Christ transform your character. Reflect also on 2 Peter 1: 3-10.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” (Galatians 5:22–25, NLT)
6. Believe Jesus at HIS Word. Jesus declared that if we remained in him and He in us that fruit would be born. (Jn 15:5)
What are the Fruits of Your Shine?
Powerful truths listed in that scriptures below!
“He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:16, NLT)
“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9, NLT)
Do you see that? When we are doing our own special work it helps the whole body to grow. That thought blows my mind a little! Also, priests had opportunities to intercede for people and to teach people about holy living.
When Do You Need to Start?
TODAY! You are a light that is needed! Remember, in the ANE, light served a necessary and vital purpose.
Wanna know something cool? Well maybe you already know this, but I just came across this in my recent studies. Jesus NEVER called himself the salt of the earth; he only referred to us in that way. Salt, you see, was meant to preserve something and we as Christians are expected to preserve and share the gospel truth so the path to Jesus can be lit up and made visible to others.
Will you commit yourself to not being shady and to allowing your life to shine?
You, my friend, you were meant to shine!
Our worship leaders led us in signing the song This Little Light of Mine, I’ve been humming it ever since.
- John R. W. Stott and John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7): Christian Counter-Culture, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 62.