Summary: We are called to be "the light of the world". This message encourages us to do two things: let our light shine BEFORE others and not AT them and to let our light shine without being showy.
BE CAREFUL WHERE AND HOW YOU SHINE YOUR LIGHT
Matthew 5: 13-16
1. (Appear wearing a mask) Good morning. I am Amasone Kilei from the Pacific island of Tuvalu. Your pastor invited me to come speak today. You have nice church.
2. Well that disguise and mask obviously did not fool anyone as to my real identity. You all knew who the real clown was behind it and were patiently waiting for me to remove the sham mask and just be who I am.
• Each one of us has at various times in our lives worn masks and perhaps sometimes still do.
• Of course, not all masks are for disguise – some are for protection – like what a surgeon wears – for your protection and his/hers, like gas masks, like a biker’s or football player’s helmet and so on.
• Some of us might also wear figurative masks for protection – like coming across as a rather gruff and aggressive personality that can hide our more tender and vulnerable nature
• Some can wear the mask of sweetness itself that for a while hides a bitter and poisonous spirit
• Do you wear a mask? What is it about who you are that you would rather others not know and so prefer to keep up the pretense?
3. I remember as a young boy having 4 main heroes in my life and frequently in fun times with my friends, I played and would become in my mind’s eye the embodiment of these characters – Tarzan, Roy Rogers, Prince Valiant, and Superman. I swung from trees, I rode my imaginary horse “Trigger”, engaged in wooden sword fights, and I flew around our yard with my swirling cape. One time I even leapt off our house roof and fortunately landed in the soft ground of the flower bed.
4. Now according to the dictionary definition of the word, I was being a hypocrite. The word “hypocrite” comes from an ancient Greek word “hypocrites” which means an actor and “hypokrinesthai” which means “to play a part” or to “pretend”. So a hypocrite was an actor who played a part in a Greek drama.
• Most often when we use the word hypocrite or hypocrisy we are referring in a derogatory or accusatory manner to someone who professes to be virtuous or righteous or a Christian, but in reality is quite the opposite.
• We remember Jesus’ reference to the Pharisees as hypocrites who sounded a trumpet before them as they gave alms in the synagogue and in the streets, so that they might impress others with their generosity.
• Or how they loved to stand and pray in the synagogue and on street corners so that their piety might be displayed to others.
5. Maxie Dunnam in his book, “That’s What the Man Said” tells the story of a young couple that had courted each other for a long time and made plans to get married. All the preparations were well under way with the date for the wedding rapidly approaching, when the young woman suddenly broke off the engagement, telling her devastated fiancée that she was madly in love with someone else.
• About 8 months later she wrote this amazing letter to him:
• “Dear Tommy, can you ever forgive me? No words can express how badly I feel, how terribly unhappy I’ve been since breaking our engagement. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t do anything without thinking of you. Please take me back, Tommy. Please. No one could ever take your place in my heart. I love you! I love you! I love you!”
• The letter was signed “Forever, Marie” and then just below, there was this small “unrelated” addition, “P.S. By the way, Tommy, congratulations on winning the Irish Sweepstakes!”
• Would you say there was something suspiciously hypocritical about her attitude? I guessed you might.
6. One of the last things most of us wants to be called is a hypocrite that we have often kept our mouths shut and our identity as Christians as quiet as possible, preferring to stave off the likelihood of such an accusation by being God’s secret or undercover agents – sort of “Spiritual 007’s”
• If we don’t make any public acknowledgment that we’re disciples of Jesus then no one can ever accuse us of not living up to that standard.
7. But let me ask you – if it is hypocritical to make all kinds of outward Christian profession and not live up to it, is it equally hypocritical to be a committed disciple and not let that light be seen by others?
8. In our Scripture reading for today, Jesus speaks about His followers – that’s us, being “the light of the world” and how we are to let that light shine in our world for the sake of others. He reminds us that a city set on a hill is there for all to see. In the same way, no one lights a candle and then sticks it under a bucket but on a lamp stand for all in the house.