Summary: The amazing power of the Gospel to change lives
Evangelism # 4
Light in Dark Places
On recent Sundays, we’ve been talking about issues connected with our mission as Christ’s representatives in this world.
From the story of Philip’s encounter with an Ethiopian man, as told in the book of the Acts, we learned that we must carefully listen: first to God and then to others. Rather than ‘show and tell,’ we are to ‘show and listen!’
We have learned of the importance of keeping the focus on Jesus Christ. He is our message; not our church, a religion, or some Christian program.
Last week’s message was one that some found a strange inclusion in a series on Evangelism: a sermon about the doctrine nobody likes - Hell! The Bible teaches that Hell is a real place where real people will spend a real eternity. While it is NOT my business nor yours to tell anyone they are going there, we must not ignore the reality of the place. Knowing that people will actually go to Hell, ought to be a powerful motivator for us to share the Good News that there is a Heaven!
Today’s message comes from Jesus’ words about our mission in this world. It is a message that is filled with hope and promise. It is a message about the privileged place occupied by God’s people and the responsibility that comes with that privilege.
Matthew 5:14-16. Pew Bible page 1501 (READ)
Here is that same passage from “the Message.”
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.
If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you?
I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!
Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
“You are here to be LIGHT, bringing out the God-colors in this world!” Isn’t that an intriguing phrase? As I read it, I couldn’t help but think of the various hues that comprise the Light of God in you and me. In case you’re not quite on board with that analogy, I’ll ask you to try to remember your physical science class in high school, probably in your freshman year! Light was one of the things you considered. Your teacher likely took a small triangular piece of glass called a prism and set it up so a bright light shown through it. What happened? It’s called refraction. Displayed on the wall, you saw a rainbow of colors, a brilliant display of the differing wavelengths of light. Combined they appeared colorless. Broken apart by the prism, you saw reds, yellows, greens, blues – a rainbow spectrum of colors.
The Light of Heaven shines through us – and as He does, we bring the beauty of the God-colors to this world. In a moment, I’d like to take a look at three of those hues....
I don’t want to spend too much time on the down side but I must say we live in a world that has some awfully DARK places - a world in desperate need of the Light and the beauty of that Light!
– Evil showed its ugly face in our backyard on Friday morning when a 22 yr. old man pulled a gun on Jon Shramm one of our local police officers, shooting him in the face and neck. And why? No one really has an explanation. Now a wife, 5 children, and many friends are in a dark place, desperately needing Light!
– Just in America, each year over a million babies’ lives are terminated in a voluntary abortion, at least 95% of which are solely based on the convenience of the mother. We wonder at ancient civilizations that sacrificed their little ones to their gods, but take little thought at the sacrifice of our children to the gods of sensuality and pleasure. No matters your politics on the issue, abortion is a dark blot in America today.
– At least 100 million children are homeless this morning despite great wealth in the world.
– The cruise missiles which we launched by the hundreds during the Iraqi war cost between $1 and 2 MILLION each! Their only purpose is destruction! We glorify the tools of war believing that they will bring us security. Death and destruction result on a colossal scale. Violence is a dark place that needs the Light!
– About 50% of teenagers over the age of 16 are regularly having casual sexual relations with the resultant epidemics of sexually transmitted disease, teen pregnancy, and emotional problems that frequently accompany promiscuity. Sex, a beautiful gift of God, becomes an ugly thing leading to slavery and shame.