Thursday, February 19, 2009

You Are the Light of the World

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14. These powerful words of Jesus point out to us what discipleship look likes. We are here to bring light into the darkness. To truly be filled with light means that we are filled with the power of an indwelling Christ. Our light comes from the covering of the righteousness of Christ.

If we are then filled with Christ and covered with light we will then be doing the works of Christ in the world. We will be his hands and feet and ministers to those in need. This is what it means to be the light of the world and to be the salt that seasons.

There is a disturbing trend in the church, however, that tends towards exclusiveness. It reminds me of the condition of the church when Jesus came to the world. If you recall, it was a very dark time in the history of our planet and a very dark time in the church. Religion had become a system of forms and elaborate rituals and sacrifices, but it was devoid of the virtues of mercy and of concerns for the good of the people. Only the “pure” were looked upon with favor by the church and the smallest of infractions could find one shunned and excommunicated from the body of believers.

Jesus was highly criticized because of the time he spent hanging out with people the church considered untouchable. They drank alcohol, they were sexually immoral, they had a lot of problems, and they didn’t even attend church. His great heart of love had the audacity to care for everyone, even the immoral Samaritan woman who had been married way too many times.

As a church, are we inclusive or exclusive? Do we shut those in need of the healing power of Christ’s love out because of what they do and how they behave? Do we embrace the power of the Holy Spirit and pray that we will be filled with the miracle working power of God so that we too, like the disciples of old will be able to minister to the healing of those in great need? Or do we live in fear, cloaking ourselves off from the needs of the world?

Do we take care of our planet or do we make excuses for our irresponsibility saying that it will all burn up anyway? Do we believe the majority of people are destined for the flames? Do we call every experience we cannot explain as being from Satan? Do we look for the Christ in people or do we look for the Anti-Christ? Are we a light on a hilltop or has our light been covered by a bushel because we are afraid?

The song “Onward Christian Soldiers” call us, not to be exclusive and ignore the needs of the world—that would be “Onward Christian Chickens”—rather to be a soldier of Christ means that we will work for the good of everyone. We will shine wherever we are and our lives will look a lot like Christ’s.

We can become so fearful of “last day deceptions” that we are useless as far as being a soldier for Christ. I am not speaking of being militant here, I am speaking of being compassionate, available, Spirit-filled, and burdened with the needs of humanity and a dying planet.

Fear is really mistrust of God. Fear separates and insulates us from the needs of those around us. Fear is selfish and is focused on a personal salvation only. When we are busy doing the work of God in the world we will cease to be consumed with our navel-gazing insecurities about our personal salvation. Moses came to an amazing place in his walk with God where he cared more for the good of the people he was trying to help than for his own salvation.

What I long to see is a church where we are more focused on how to make a difference than we are about protecting our fundamental 28. Our beliefs should make us ambassadors of God’s love. They should never insulate us from the needs of others. The world is dying for the light of God’s love. Let’s be a light to the world.


  1. Excellent post today. This very subject is always on my heart, especially since I have many gay friends who love Jesus but will not step into any church for fear of being shunned and condemned.

  2. Dear Beautiful (you don't look like a wreak to me),

    Thanks for your comment. I popped over to your blog and enjoyed reading about your wonderful family!

    I'm envisioning a church that has many outreach programs and venues so that all who want to worship our lovely Jesus will find a community where they feel loved and cherished.

    The other vision I hold is for a person from any walk of life to be able to walk into an Adventist church anywhere and feel wanted.

    For me, letting go of judgment in any form, including feeling judgmental of those I feel are judgmental is one of the greatest challenges. I want to learn to be a radical lover of those who journey with me on this earth. I guess that's what Jesus did--and was willing to die for it.

  3. Hi Julie,
    Great article. I too as a SDA was very judgmental toward any different sexual practicing person. I had a really great lifelong friend that I met at Forest Lake Academy in 1964. He never stopped being a friend, and I always thought he was going to Hell as a good SDA would normally do. I loved him but still sat in judgment on him. He was after an alcoholic and gay. He died last year and I never got to tell him of my mistakes about him. I'm sorry Bill, forgive me.

    God never had a problem loving him "NO MATTER WHAT". THANKS

    Stephen Zorn