God has given us a mission. A Great Commission, to be exact. Matthew 28:18-20 reads, “Then Jesus came near and said to them, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” There are three commands here; 1) make disciples of all nations 2) be baptized 3) teach and follow the commandment’s I have given you. No easy task here for human kind. Right now I just want to focus on teach and follow the commandment’s I have given you and narrow it down even further to a specific call He’s placed on our lives as Believers.
If you open up the book of Matthew and diligently read through chapters 5-7 Jesus teaches us how to live in accordance to his word and pursue an eternal life. “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Sounds great, um, but how do we do that?
How do we live to be the light? If we’re supposed to live as “lit” Christians, ignited and intoxicated by the Holy Spirit, what does that look like? Being in relationship with Christ is the most important part of the Christian life. Immersing yourself in the Word, memorizing scripture, and spending time in prayer are all ways to build that relationship. How does this overflow into the context of being the light of the world? When we are in Christ, we live differently. The desires of our hearts change. We shine because we live and act in ways that differ from those around us. We stand out. We’re set apart.
“Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.” – Philippians 2:14-15
With the conviction and guidance of consciously having God’s word on your heart, your actions and words will begin to point those around you to God. To shine, in the context of being a Christian, means to serve and love those around you to bring God glory. How can you be a servant to those around you? Especially those who it’s sometimes hard to love. In 2 Corinthians (4:5-7) Paul speaks to this, “…We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness, ‘has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts…”
A couple of years ago, after spending time digging into the Philippians passage above, the evening was wrapped up by asking this question, “How can you apply what you learned? Try to be specific.”
“Do EVERYTHING without grumbling and arguing” – Colossians 3:23 says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” Know who you are ultimately serving with your actions. God gave you this beautiful earth and life as a gift, and so easily it’s taken for granted because of a thunder storm or not getting the promotion. If you let those things affect your joy, are you really working and living for the Lord rather than for things of this world? What is in your heart will show in your actions, Luke 6:45 reads, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
“Blameless, pure, children of God, faultless” – This is the Gospel, the Good News of living and loving life with Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Romans 7:14, 16-18 addresses it this way, “For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace…. Do you not know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey- either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.” When we commit ourselves to living a life on mission to fulfill the Great Commission we make a choice to act in accordance and obedience to His word.
“Shine like stars” – As I answered the question posed above (How can you apply what you learned? Try to be specific.), my focus narrowed to this phrase in the verse. How can I shine – i.e. how can I live in a way that God is continually being glorified by the way I live my life? I believe that is the heart of what God is trying to teach us through these verses. In 2 Corinthians (4:6-7) God paints a beautiful picture of how He is glorified though our natural brokenness as human beings. “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is form God, not form ourselves.” These verses conclude with focusing on the fact that God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, is with us and empowering us, ‘igniting our candle’. It’s Him that is shining, not us. We are the jars of clay. We are jars of clay that have been dropped, thrown, and crushed. When we crawl back to Jesus and he puts us back together. There are scars from our past, missing pieces, we are still broken, but we are whole. Through those broken pieces, His glory, His light, shines though. If you would light a candle in a perfect clay jar the light may dimly escape though the top. Now, picture a broken clay jar with cracks up and down the sides, the light of that candle is dispersed throughout the room, creating an array of light. It sparkles. There is beauty in brokenness, its God’s glory that makes it so beautiful.
We teach and follow the commandment’s the Lord has given us by working for the Lord and not men. Live in obedience to Christ, and let Him be glorified through our brokenness.