Summary: Candlelight service message about spreading the light of Christ.
The World Needs the Light
Christmas Candlelight Service
December 23, 2007
The passage I’d like to use for my message tonight is one you’ve heard me address before, but it took on a bit of a new significance to me today.
14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
After church it came to my attention that we couldn’t find the candles for the service tonight.
If you know me well at all, you’ll know that when I’m under the gun about something that’s about to happen TONIGHT, I can jump into this “What is the easiest and quickest way to fix this?”
And as long as it doesn’t involve power tools, I can usually come up with something.
Well we searched here and there for them and couldn’t find them anywhere, so I jumped in my car with the idea of trying to find some in a store somewhere.
But as I was driving along 6th Avenue, I got to thinking: what if we just didn’t have them for tonight?
In fact, I started thinking that maybe it would be a good thing if we didn’t have them.
I thought it would be good because it would illustrate just how the Church seems to operate in today’s world.
And if we turned off all the lights, and the only candle lit was this one up here, and the flame wasn’t passed down the aisles like we normally do, there would be some confusion, some disappointment, maybe even some anger that we didn’t do the normal candle-lighting deal.
But I got to thinking more about it, and we’re going to light the candles as usual. But I want to challenge you with something, and it won’t be easy to hear.
The candle-lighting ceremony is supposed to represent the light of Christ being passed on from one person to another.
But how many of you are actually looking to help someone really see the light of Christ?
How many of you are praying for your unbelieving friends and family and praying for the opportunity to share Christ with them?
I say this with all the love I can muster, but it needs to be said: if this church is like all the others, the answer is that hardly anyone in this room is praying for the unsaved people in their midst and looking for ways to share Christ with them.
It’s a sad fact of life that only about 5% of born-again Christians will attempt to lead someone to Christ.
So here’s the question that I’ve been wrestling with all day today, and have been literally crying over: Why is it okay for us to fake it here at a candlelight service and not do it for real out there?
Is God really honored by that?
Today I got to lead a young person to Christ in my office after church. What a wonderful thing to witness – a child wanting Jesus, and parents expressing their desire to live for Christ themselves.
I tried not to cry, because I didn’t want the kids in that room to think their pastor was a sissy. But I did end up tearing up a bit.
But do you have any idea how much I pray that some of you would come to me to tell me that you led someone to Christ where you work.
To hear that you are passing on the light of Christ for real to a person without hope for heaven would thrill me to no end.
But know what happens in congregations all over the US? We put our light under a bowl.
We’re stingy with the light. We’re afraid that if we give it away, we’ll lose it for ourselves. Or we’re afraid the “wrong” type of person might get it – whatever type that is. They don’t deserve it, we say, forgetting the fact that we didn’t deserve it, either.
“It’s the pastors’ job, not mine.” Wrong. It’s your job as much, if not more, than mine.
Why? Because I don’t have the kind of relationship with those people that you have. They’re your friends and acquaintances, and they are your responsibility to see that they see Christ in you so that when the time comes, you can share the good news of Jesus with them.
That’s what Jesus is talking about here when He says to let your good deeds shine so others can praise God.