Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Identity in Christ - 36 (Light of the World)

Jesus told his disciples that the “are the light of the world.” Present tense. Not “were.” Not “will be.” They had not yet received the Holy Spirit. They were at the beginning of their training. But Jesus wanted them to get it in their heads. “You are light.”
Light is mentioned two ways in the passage: far-away and up-close. Light is necessary in both ways. Light far-away is needed for correct direction. Like a light house. Based on the position of the light, a ship knows where to go and where to avoid. Light up-close is needed, so a person does not stumble over the what is right in front of them.
The disciples were light in both ways. It’s one thing to know I have to travel 37½° West, but if I can’t see the furniture, I might not even get started. And if I can see all the furniture, it makes no sense to even start, if I don’t know where to go.
By giving their allegiance to Jesus, they become lighthouse to lost people. By their life conduct (motives, values, words, actions, and how relationships are conducted) they demonstrate how to walk in relationship to the lighthouse.
  • God’s Perspective
We have said it before: God’s plan is to re-claim a family for himself, and to restore the members of that family to live according to how he originally designed them. He will use that family to act as a beacon, giving people a direction to pursue. It is their life decisions and the lifestyles as a result of those decisions, that act as light. His children give both a direction and a model to follow.
God has chosen to act through his family. Every one of his children do reveal him to the world. And all of his children together do reveal him to the world.
That doesn’t mean that God’s family carries out the plan perfectly. We can see the fruit when God’s people do carry out his plan correctly, and when they don’t. We can recognize different times in history, God is working to correct how his family is working. The reformation is one. Awakenings, Revivals and Renewals (and there are many of these) are other corrections. The rediscovery of essential truths (spiritual gifts, the priesthood of all believers, the Father’s heart, house churches, and becoming Missional) are also course corrections. I don’t believe that God is giving form corrections. (For example, his children do not all necessarily have to join house churches.) But these are indications of corrections of motive, attitude and focus.
For example, whole movements of Christians have relegated roles and functions that all followers of Jesus should pursue to professionals. Whole movements of Christians have restricted God’s influence and activity to meetings and special buildings when it should invade homes, neighborhoods, work places, restaurants, coffee shops and universities.
There is a view that if someone could build a church organization to have several thousand members, that this organizations impact on a community is somehow orders of magnitude greater. Especially if they can get on TV. It does seem that larger churches can marshal more resources, and direct these resources to areas of need. However, often those resources get used internally. And the main focus should be heart influence, and cultural\spiritual transformation. Can one church of 10,000 impact a community more than 100 churches of 100 people? Maybe it is how the members of these churches are given training, encouragement and freedom to act? Remember god’s family is a family of priests. And, as priests, we are all responsible to represent God to all peoples.
And God is confident in us. If we are serious with our responsibilities, and practice them, we will act as light.
  • Living My Life
The “brightness” of our light is proportional to our relationship with the Father, and how genuinely we live according to his standard and patterns. Often people make the pattern more complicated that Jesus intended it. Jesus gave us seven areas to pursue:

            1. Repent and believe in him. (Or as I have expressed it … give him our allegiance.)
            2. Be baptized.
            3. Worship\Communion.
            4. Pray.
            5. Love\Serve.
            6. Give.
            7. Make disciples.

The first two are one-time decisions. The last five are on-going practices. Each area can be a zone of almost infinite ways of practice. Each area can represent God in the world. Each area is a means to give light. And God is confident that each of his children can practice these areas effectively, and reveal him effectively. Therefore, each child gives light.

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