For the last several weeks in worship our focus has been centered on the idea of understanding the nature and person of Jesus. Not just to better understand the historical Jesus, but to see and recognize the Messiah, our Savior and how that identity should shape our lives, thoughts, words, and actions.
It is no secret that to be a disciple of another means you follow their will, their philosophies for life and manifest them in yourself. We have numerous examples in the New Testament where Jesus spells out those ideals of being his disciple. One of my favorites is from the Gospel of Matthew:
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)
I love the imagery used here of light. Light gives the impression of warmth, of safety, of community. The light of a fire warms those around it; the light cast into the darkness brings safety from the unexpected; the presence of light allows us to see each other as we build relationships. This type of light represents purity and divine revelation. But one of the most telling aspects about this passage is from whom this light is cast. You. We are to be the light of the world. We are to be the divine revelation or reflection of God to this world.
We are not to have separate church lives and normal lives. We are not to hide what we believe and compartmentalize it so those ideals are not evident in all that we say and all that do. This is where the challenge lies; this is where Lent comes into practice. This is the season where we look at our lives and at our faith journey. This is the season where we ask those tough questions. Am I Christian just at church? Am I a Christian just as home? Or am I a Christian everywhere?
Folks, it is a challenge to be Christ like in all we say and do; but it is not optional. We cannot say disparaging things about people behind their backs in word or in notes. We cannot judge others for what we perceive to be some sort of deficit in their character or ability. We cannot be mean to others as we look down our nose at them.
To be a disciple of Christ, to be the light of the world, we have to live by grace first and foremost. We have to seek ways to reconcile and bring others to Christ. We have to seek to create harmony and unity and not division. Please read this carefully, this applies to all people, in all situations, and at all times. There is not a situation or a time where a mean thought, note, word, or deed is permissible. To live by this counter-cultural grace is not elective.
Jesus is very clear that the light, our ability to be the divine reflection of God, needs to always shine before others so that they can see it and recognize God living in us. That means we search our feelings and emotions and if they do not fit this paradigm, we seek help from God. That means that if we are not Christ like in what we are about to say, write, or think, we submit to God and ask for help. It is necessary during this season for all of us to open ourselves up to God, to ask those difficult questions so that we can continue to be remade with the image of God upon us.
I invite you to keep using those disciples of prayer, fasting, and giving to draw yourself closer to God. Open yourself up to that examination so we can be made more like Christ and truly usher in the present hope of God’s Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Have a great week and I will see you Sunday,