Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Let Your Light Shine before Men

Mathew 5 14:16
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house” (Verses 14-15)
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (verse 16)

A large crowd of people were pressing on Jesus, so he climbed up on a mountain where he could secure a vantage position that will allow him a clear visual of the magnitude of the crowd, and at the same time provide some sort of protection while he preached to them. The Sermon on the Mount is considered the first preaching of Jesus Christ to a large crowd, and where he listed the topics that will form major biblical subjects that promises a way of life that leads to salvation. Known as the Beatitudes, these subjects are outlined in Mathew chapter 5, from verse 1 to 13. However, right after the Beatitudes, Christ also preached on the relationship between his disciples and the world; how we should attract followers to him, and what the world expects to see in the daily life and activities of those who profess to be Disciples of Christ.

“You are the light of the world”

Hear Him! We are the light of the world. Christ is not talking about fashion here: no painted fingernails, designers clothing, or the latest hairstyles. He is not talking about our private jets, mansions, and fleet of exotic cars, our gold medals and trophies collected through our sporting prowess. It is not our bevy of beautiful spouses decked out in expensive jewelry; yes, while those could and do sparkle, they do not produce the light Christ is referring to. Here, Christ is talking about our daily lives: how do we live our lives as Christians? At work, at home when no one is watching, in the church, in public places when everyone is watching, at grocery stores, in the classrooms, in our marriages, friendship with others, and in our relationship with our children and siblings. How does your light shine through? To know if your light shines through positively or not, you must first understand what that light is; and to successfully do this, you must first know who you are spiritually aligned with. Are you with Christ or with the world?

If you are with Christ, then you have to go back to the Beatitudes that preceded these verses and clearly understand those who will obtain salvation, and why:
1.      The poor in spirit
2.      Those who mourn (not necessarily for the deaths in their own families)
3.      The gentle
4.      Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
5.      The merciful
6.      The pure in heart
7.      The peacemakers
8.      Those persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and
9.      Those persecuted for the sake of Christ
Are you any or all of these? Does the world see any of these lights in you?

“A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house”

If you are or possess any of the qualities, the world will notice them from your daily life activities and interaction and they will strive to emulate you. If you have any or all of them but do not exhibit them (lighting a lamp and hiding it under a basket), then you are not giving light to “all who are in the house” (world around you). You can say to yourself all you want: “I know I am a good person; I do not cheat, steal, kill, or bear false witness”; but if there has been no witness to those, and no other life or behavior has been positively impacted by your good deeds, or lifestyle, then you are not a light unto the world. Do you turn them off and on, use them like a charm instrument, as occasion requires? Maybe, to get a spouse, a certain job, for good grades, to endear yourself to some groups for ulterior purposes? To attract the attention, and possibly convert certain class of people to Christ to the approval and praise of your pastor, and not everyone who crosses your path? Or, do you just have some and not all the required characteristics?

If your light is selective in its shine, then it is not to the work of God, or to His glory. Same thing if your light is artificial in its shine; faked just for the purpose of confusion and deceit, and not really from the bottom of your heart. Then you will not obtain salvation, because God is not mocked, neither is his instruction disregarded or used for ulterior motives. Are you like the bank counter clerk, that salesgirl, or the cashier at the fast food joint, who is forced to smile because he/she is expected to be “nice” to the customer; yet, behind the facade is the antithesis of all that the Beatitudes spells out for us as a path to salvation. Are you like the politician who patterns his or her message according to the needs of the segment of his constituency? That lady with a different dress for every different occasion, or the man presents with multiple personalities based on the status of woman he is courting? Are you presenting different lights to different audiences? Then your light is not of God, and cannot light up either His house or His community for rest of the world to see.

Felix Oti
felix.oti@gmail.com

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