If you are like me, you love to share your life experiences. Now this sharing can be of those situations that are great and of those aspects that are bad. I have heard that people are more inclined to share a negative experience than a positive experience. It has also been said that we share those negative situations with more people than the positive ones. I think this is true about others view of Jesus, or more precisely others view of those of us that represent Jesus.
There is an in incredible amount of truth in the statement of the follower of Jesus which states, “Your life is the only Bible that most people will ever read.” I have also heard it put another way, “You are the only Jesus that most people will ever experience!” Now the Bible does not teach, like some false religions, that we can become a god. The Bible does teach however that we are to become like Jesus. We are to implement His teaching in our daily lives. Jesus used a metaphor in one of his sermons to make this point when he stated, “ You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) He then goes on to talk about how when you light a lamp you do not hide it under a basket but you place it on a stand to provide light.
Studying this passage I got thinking about “lighting a lamp” or in our case today turning on a light. I would guess that you turn on a light every day. You turn a light on as you enter a room and you turn it off when you are done in that room. The point I want us to grasp is that this is just a normal everyday occurrence in our lives. It is when the light does not work that we notice, otherwise we just assume that when we flick the switch the light comes on and darkness is spelled. One side note, as a point of interest, darkness is really the absence of light. Darkness only exists when there is an a absence of light.
What Jesus is saying to His followers is that I want you to be the light in all the places you go. I want you to be a light in the room of your family. I want you to be a light in the room of your neighborhood. I want you to be a light at your school. I want you to be a light at your place of employment. What Jesus is communicating in His sermon is that we are to be those that dispel darkness by being a light.
So how am I a light to others in darkness? I have already mentioned it, but listen to Jesus’ words, “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.” (Matthew 5:16) The way that we are a light is by living out Jesus’ teaching, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is worth noting that just prior to these statements in Matthew 5 is a section known as the Beatitudes. It is a section that practically describes how the follower of Christ responds differently to specific situations than the others.
I think that most followers understand this important truth, although it helps to be reminded. What I wanted to point out is the impact of owning our responsibility. Let me explain. When a Christian acts in an unchristian way in a particular circumstance we give others a wrong view of real Christianity. Yet, the opposite is also true, when we live out Jesus’ teaching we come bringing light into a dark place in our world, and more importantly into a dark heart. So the challenge is to be on our toes and own the fact that our responses in life situations have an impact on what others think of Jesus.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson