Summary: How to keep our light shining
There is a sense of finality to the scene in Survivor when Jeff Probst walks over to someone’s torch, says, “The tribe has spoken” and snuffs out the persons flame. There is a sense of finality when as believers we see another believer whose life style is in direction contradiction to the commands of Christ. And because of that they are no longer the light they are supposed to be. Two differences being that the believer snuffs out his own flame and secondly it’s not a game.
This morning I want to look at protecting your flame. In the scripture that Larry read this morning Jesus made the statement “You are the Light of the World” but what does that mean and what is our responsibility as light. To put the entire thing into context we have to realize that the word light was used repeatedly throughout the gospels. But in the vast majority of cases it was referring to Christ not Christians. Time and time again we see Jesus referred to as the light, either in reference to Old Testament Propecy like when Matthew quotes from the prophet Isaiah in Matthew 4:16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.”
Or when John described Jesus pre-existence in the first five verses of John 1:1-5 In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
Jesus himself made reference to this in John 8:12 and 9:5 when he said “I am the light of the World” So it’s interesting that he would call tell his disciples that they were the light of the world in Matthew 5. And the essence of the entire thing lies in whom he made this statement to. Was it the multitudes that gathered to see him perform miracles? Was it the crowds who gathered to hear his teachings or was it a little more narrow then that. Let’s go back to the description of those who were there that sunny Palestinian afternoon. We refer to this teaching as the sermon the mount, but the if we look at where this took place that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. If we pull up a map here put on some familiar spots, like the Sea of Galilee, the Dead sea, Jerusalem and Capernaum. And about four kms North East is a hill which is about 100 metres at its peak. This is what we now refer to as the Mount of Beatitudes and has traditionally been seen as the sight of the Sermon on the Mount, which could be more accurately called the “Sermon on the Hill” but that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive.
Anyways that was all free. Matthew 5:1 One day as the crowds were gathering, Jesus went up the mountainside with his disciples and sat down to teach them. The crowds have started to gather again, they’re pushing and shoving trying to see the carpenter from Nazareth that some called the Messiah. And Jesus takes his disciples and moves up away from the crowd to the apex of this hill. And it’s there that he unveils his master plan for the Kingdom. It’s not easy teaching, anyone who thinks that it is has obviously never read it. And it is to this disciples, not the crowd, not the multitudes that he makes the statement: Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world—like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see.
A little boy was sitting in church with his mother, and as he looked around at the beauty of the stained glass curiosity finally got the best of him and he asked, “Who are all those people?” To which his mother responded, “they are saints.” And then sensing that this was a teaching moment she asked “Do you know what saints are?” He pondered for a moment and then responded, “They are people the light shines through.”
Excellent answer. Who are the Saints, we are. Throughout the New Testament the followers of Christ are referred to as saints, nothing mystical or mysterious. Turn to the person next to you and say hello Saint. And so we are the people who light shines through. And the light of course is Jesus. And the reason that we are supposed to be a light is given by Christ in Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.