The word had got out. The crowds were gathering and they were coming from miles all around. Under some pressure the disciples climb up the mountainside and approach. And Jesus speaks.
So the setting is drawn for possibly the most famous speech in history – the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:1-7:28). Jesus sets out for his disciples (but in full knowledge that the crowds are eagerly listening in) what it means to follow him.
What does a Christian look like? His answer: A light!
‘Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven’ (Matt 5:16)
On Sunday we completed the ‘Essentials’ Sermon series – seven topics that essentially capture what is asked of the Christian. This statement from Jesus, to ‘let your light shine’ in the world is in many ways a great summary verse for the whole series.
Christians stand in a fallen and dark world. But Christians are not to be like the fallen or dark world. They are to be a light.
Grasp this truth for a moment.
So much about our world impresses upon us the need to be like it. To fit in. To conform. To be tolerant. But, to what end?
Friends, there is a key difference between being in the world but not like the world and it is a difference that Christians need to understand and carefully live out.
Consider how essentially different the Christian is to the world in just the seven areas that we looked at in this past series.
1. Salvation by Grace in Christ.
This world says: earn your importance by what you do.
God says: You are saved by grace in Jesus – not by what you do.
2. Grounded in the Word.
This world says: Listen to me – and things like the newspapers tell us what to believe.
God says: Listen to me – and I give you my Word, the Bible, to show you why it is good to believe.
3. Faithful ion Prayer.
The world says: We know best and we can do whatever we set our minds too.
God says: Talk to me in prayer. I will listen to you and give you what is best.
4. Bold in Mission.
The world says: Follow me – and things like the world of celebrity will show you what’s important.
God says: Make Jesus famous – so that others will know how important it is that Jesus died also for them.
5. Core in Membership.
The world says: Me first, then others if it suits.
God says: Love me, love others – before yourself.
6. Godly in Giving.
The world says: Buy me, you will be happy.
God says: Give generously, the gospel asks you too.
7. Active in Service.
The world says: Take what you can get.
God says: Out of love, find ways to do good works for others (even if it costs you).
In each essential element the Christian is called to live out what he or she believes in a tangible and obvious way. And in doing so, they are being a light in a dark place.
And, to what end?
That they may see what you do and praise God (Matt 5:16).
Being ‘Christian’ is not solely a title – it is also a calling.
Can we help one another to shine brightly in our world, so that others will see and praise God with us? I pray that we do. I give thanks when we do.