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Summary: Today… just want to step back and help us grasp the process of being light. I think for many of us it may begin by clarifying the paradigm.

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We’re beginning a short series today… and at the heart of this series is a call to consider perhaps the most sensational words ever spoken to us… one phrase, seven words, spoken by Jesus…

that lifts our lives into a whole new level of meaning… those seven words…

“You are the light of the world.”

Lets read aloud together the broader words which Jesus says to his followers…

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither 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. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5:14-16

"You are the light of the world.”

Hard words to embrace… perhaps fitting of Jesus…. but ourselves?

After all, there can be plenty of darkness around us… and within us as well. All too often we may not feel like we shine.

Yet these words are spoken by Christ to ordinary people who had simply encountered him… and begun to follow. They were as surprised as us… not the popular or powerful within their social culture… and nearly slaves to their Roman oppressors… yet they bore a light that would enlighten the world forever. So can we.

This series is entitled “Holy Conversation” because our focus is going to be on how we talk about the reality of God in everyday life.

We’ll consider this for the next four weekends… but the real personal process will be shaped by actual conversation with others that begins in smaller groups. This series is drawing upon a great work by Richard Peace that is really a personal formation process developed in small groups over the next 10 weeks.

Today… just want to step back and help us grasp the process of being light. I think for many of us it may begin by clarifying the paradigm.

Paradigm Shift

Most of us in this room probably sense some tension between two things: One is that there is nothing more significant than talking about the spiritual dimension of life… and sharing what we have found in Christ. The other sense is that the actual process can feel challenging. We know that something about the good news isn’t translating and easily understood as such. Within our unique culture it is often recommended that if we want to keep peace in our relationships we should avoid talking about politics and… religion.

Yet here is the irony… not only is the human spirit deeply spiritual by nature… but our culture is overflowing with spirituality. The spiritual dimension of life is more dominant in television shows, bookstores, and music than ever before.

This series is about helping us develop the ability to share in holy conversation… to more naturally help us talk about God in everyday life.

Part of challenge lies in carrying the weight of some false presumptions.

The paradigm that may often be felt is that of being a salesman or saleswoman.

What are some of the dynamics that such a paradigm reflect? (Draw out some from audience)

• Obligatory…. A product we have to sell… to fulfill a job description… or a quota.

• Uses people to fulfill a need or burden we have

• Pressured – ‘Closing the deal’

• More packaged than personal

• Disingenuous… we feel we have to say more than we actually know and therefore more than what is personal and natural.

If any of this burdens us… we may do well to ask:

When did Christ send his followers out to share anything other than what they had discovered?

When did Christ presume to convert people … or that his disciples would actually convert people?

I want to suggest that…

A better paradigm is that of being fellow travelers… with the Light of Christ.

Those who offer spiritual companionship, conversation, and challenge.

While confrontation has it’s place… as we see in Jesus and the religious leaders who confronted him… our cultural reality is more like Greece… a land of many ideas and gods. And as such we need to think less confrontational and more conversational.

People today are skittish and gun-shy about being pressured religiously. We need the skills of a horse whisperer. Horses are flight animals. They get easily spooked and away they go. Any jerk can try and beat an animal, but there’s something ennobling to us when we simply use our voice to guide or influence them… like a horse or dog whisperer you woo and win that animal’s confidence. You are here this morning because you’ve fallen under the spell of the God whisperer who knows your name and has wooed you and called you into the adventure of knowing and loving him. victor pentz

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