Walk Towards The Light

In Matt. 5 Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” But in John 8, he says

Light in the night (Castelldefels)

Light in the night (Castelldefels) (Photo credit: jcarlosn)

that, “I am the light of the world.” Which is it? It is both. Read the rest of John 8.

“Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

By following Jesus we have the light to be the light of the world. Paul expands on the theme in Ephesians 5: 8-9. “ For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)”

You don’t need my help to think of all the imagery, benefits, and symbolism that the term “light” provides. The third thing that God created after the heavens and the earth was light.

Imagine an existence without light. It sounds stupid I know but I want us to realize what our role is as the light of the world. Have you ever shut off your lights before getting into bed and notice where your eyes immediately move? They always move to the brightest part of the room. We are drawn to light in dramatic ways.

We must ask ourselves, does my light reflect the light of Christ or the darkness of Satan? How bright do I shine? Am I just a little flicker or a burning flame? If you think you are just biding time until you get to heaven, then you are not being light to the world.

When I see the church I see so much light it is overwhelming but at times you see a group of Christians who do not know how to be light. But Paul tells us in Ephesians, to live as children of light is to produce goodness, righteousness, and truth. In the Sermon on the Mount, which this passage comes from, Jesus details a life that is bursting with light. Follow its example to become Children of Light.

Worth Your Weight In Salt

Because I am becoming increasingly concerned with the inability of

Salt

Salt (Photo credit: krissen)

American Christians to live out their faith in a practical and realistic way that does not require fanaticism about issues and politics, I thought it would be good to move through some teachings of Jesus  and discuss how these teachings actually live out in daily life.

I am no expert but I hope to bring a thoughtful and reasoned approach. Plus, I am a disciple of Jesus and he has taught me a few things over the years. The main focus will be Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Matt. 5: 13

What a warning this verse is. Imagine not being “good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” This is why our actions as Christians should be thoughtful and directed by the Holy Spirit. A Christian that acts out of emotion but fails to discern God’s will or listen to that “still small voice” is at risk of turning their salt into nothing more than white specs on the ground.

As a Christian, you are Christ’s representative on earth. You are called to be little Christ. We should filter all of our actions through Christ’s actions and ministry. We should be so knowledgeable of Christ’s teaching and ministry that we intuitively understand how much our actions mirror who Christ was and is in us.

There are endless words written on “how Jesus would” drive, vote, eat, or work. I don’t know if we can answer all of these questions but we can, with just a short walk through the gospels, notice that Jesus emphasized love, abiding in him, healing, forgiveness, prayer, and sacrifice. To remain salty, these are the things we should be characterized by. Other things may put us in position to lose our saltiness.

 

How To Inherit the Earth and See God

 

Because I am becoming increasingly concerned with the inability of American Christians to live out their faith in a practical and realistic way that does not require fanaticism about issues and politics, I thought it would be good to move through some teachings of Jesus  and discuss how these teachings actually live out in daily life.

I am no expert but I hope to bring a thoughtful and reasoned approach. Plus, I am a disciple of Jesus and he has taught me a few things over the years. The main focus will be Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount.

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus only had two kinds of people who followed him – those who needed him and those who didn’t. The first group is obviously the people who were mired in sickness, sin, or devastation. The second group are those who were so against what Jesus was about that they followed him in order to prove him wrong or catch him in a religious mistake. These were the Pharisees.

The Pharisees and their wealthier counterparts, the Sadducees, were the groups of people in Jesus’ time who thought they had cornered the market on blessing. Their religious piety, their wealth, their gender, their reputation, and their health, in their minds, were all signs that they were deserving of blessing. If you did not fall into this category of people than you were blocked from God’s blessing.

You will notice that Jesus doesn’t list any of the common characteristics we would list as deserving of blessing. He doesn’t mention good looks, education, marriage standing, or occupation. Instead, his list seems like a mistake. The spiritually poor? The meek? The mourners? The kind souls who practice mercy? What exactly makes these people deserving of blessing?

That is the point. The common distinctions that humans make regarding who is really well off are thrown out the window with Jesus’ beatitudes. In Jesus, blessing is available to all who will receive it. Yes, even those mired in mistakes, misfortune, and misery.

If you are like me, you need Jesus and his blessing in your life. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus came to bring it to us. Yes, even us.

Rejoice and be glad.

 

An Unexpected Visitor Arrived During Yesterday’s Lord Supper

 

Something strange happened yesterday during my church’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

English: Baptist communion elements

English: Baptist communion elements (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My church is a standard medium sized evangelical church in a “red” state. Silence isn’t usually a part of our worship much less our celebration of Communion. Our church, as do most Baptist churches that I have been a part of, use the time when the bread and juice are passed out for a beautiful instrumental piece or even a reverent solo. Yesterday, there was no music during the delivery of the elements to the congregation.

At first, I didn’t catch this but I did have a sense of something being different. Then, by the time our deacons were receiving their portion, it dawned on me that there was no music. No wonder I seemed to be taking this exercise more seriously. No wonder it seemed that the church as a whole was rapt with attention.

Silence in my church usually comes with nervous clearing of throats and awkward motions in order to break the uncomfortableness of the moment and make it go by faster. I didn’t notice any of this yesterday, maybe I was too focused at the practice at hand. Normally, I would be lost somewhere between my need to concentrate on the sacrifice of Jesus and the distraction of the musical “performance” in front of me. Instead, I was moved to contemplation and reverence and my mind was able to focus on the impact and power of Jesus and his work on the cross on my behalf. It was a refreshing time of worship and participation.

I don’t know if our pastor intended for this to happen (we are in between worship pastors)  but the next time we have the Lord’s Supper and there is music being played in the middle of it, I think I will be wishing for a little more silence.

 

How We Can Learn To Pray For Our Enemies And Other Lessons

Because I am becoming increasingly concerned with the inability of American Christians to live out their faith in a practical and realistic way that does not require fanaticism about issues and politics, I thought it would be good to move through some teachings of Jesus  and discuss how these teachings actually live out in daily life.

I am no expert but I hope to bring a thoughtful and reasoned approach. Plus, I am a disciple of Jesus and he has taught me a few things over the years. The main focus will be Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount.

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. Matthew 5:1-2

This happened right after scripture tells us that Jesus traveled the countryside healing the sick and demon possessed. The pattern of Jesus ministry is healing then teaching. The two go hand in hand. He rarely taught without also healing and rarely healed without also teaching.

Do we only want Jesus’ healing and dismiss his teaching? Do we come to him so that he can make us whole but when he then has something to tell us that may be more important than our healing we turn our back on him? How selfish can we be? The crowds that followed Jesus weren’t satisfied with the healing. They followed him because he was unique, powerful, and wise. What would happen if you sought only Jesus’ teaching? Would the healing disappear or be unimportant? I don’t think so, but I do think our lives would begin a well-ordered transformation.

Action: Ask yourself what you want to learn from Jesus? What aspect of Jesus’ life and teaching would benefit your life? Pray that you will learn from Jesus how to make this change in your life.