Summary: Living for ourselves does not lead to a life of fullness, living a life of love, which is focused on others, with our head up and our eyes forward, is God’s road to fullness.
Get Your Head Up and Your Eyes Out
Matt 5:14-16 Sept 24, 2006
Here is the cover of last week’s TIME magazine (September 18, 2006), and I must say, I am a little disgusted. Some of the leaders of some of the largest, evangelical churches in the US are teaching that a life of fullness is measured by how much stuff we have. They use the same verse I have been using as the basis of this fall series, John 10:10, in which Jesus says: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”, and they are saying that God’s road to fullness is a life of material prosperity.
And that makes me angry, not only because of how ridiculously wrong it is, and not only because of how it completely misses the point of what Jesus came to be and to teach, and not only for a bunch more reasons I won’t get into here, but because it is such a pathetic replacement for the real life of abundance and fullness – which is not a life of material prosperity, but rather is a life of love.
Two weeks ago, we began our series about how living a life of love is God’s road to fullness, and we talked about beginning by getting on the right road – the “narrow road that leads to life”. Last week we talked about how, once we are on the right road, God’s design is that we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our every step, as we walk “in step with the Spirit”, we find Him leading us into a life of love, which in turn leads us to living life “to the full”. This morning, I want to talk about our focus – our purpose – and how that leads us further down God’s road to fullness. Here is my premise: A life of love is focused on others, and that leads us into a life of fullness.
An Analogy from Sports: (head up…)
I need a volunteer or two to answer a question for me: what is your favorite team sport to play? What happens if you keep your head down, your focus on yourself?
Life imitates sport – if we walk through life focused on ourselves, living for ourselves, seeking our interests, putting our efforts into the things we want, the result is going to be isolation; misery; we are going to miss out on all of the fullness of life that God wants for us, because our focus is in the wrong place. Living for ourselves does not lead to a life of fullness, living a life of love, which is focused on others, with our head up and our eyes forward, is God’s road to fullness.
Listen to Jesus’ words in Matt. 5:14-16. 14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
A Statement of Identity (vs. 14):
The passage begins with a statement of identity: “You are”. Jesus doesn’t state it as an inquiry, “do you want to be”; and He doesn’t state it as a possibility, “you could be”. He states it as a reality: this is who you are: “you are the light of the world.”
What an incredible privilege! Jesus is speaking to you and to me who are Christians, and saying that we are light! We have power over darkness, we shine so that others don’t trip and fall and hurt themselves, we shine so that people in our world can see the beauty of what God has created, we shine so that people can live and be warm and can experience life.
Jesus says, “a city on a hill cannot be hidden.” I think this means that once we have met Jesus, once we have been filled with the Holy Spirit, once we have joined together in community, then the light that is us is joined with the light that is those around us and it becomes a city, shining on a hill, which cannot be hidden, and which becomes something that everyone out in the surrounding country side, perhaps struggling in darkness – tripping over roots, unable to find food, feeling lost and alone and cold – it becomes something that everyone out in the darkness can see. What a powerful image, what an incredible privilege. Let me plant a question: is that an accurate description of our church? Are we that kind of community – many different lights gathered together, shining light into the surrounding darkness?