March 28, 2013

In what do I boast?

In a playground, some children will show off their athletic abilities. The same happens at the pool and during recess. Some show off their test marks in the classroom, or show off their skills, appearance, or how many friends they have on facebook. For Christians, all of this is not important.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14–16)

What is this light that Matthew is talking about? Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5) so this light is tied to the Person of Christ as well as the truth that He brought. That truth is fairly basic. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and God wants to restore us to that glory, so He sent Jesus to seek and save sinners.

The odd part is that many sinners don’t find this to be good news. They are not interested in light or salvation from sin, but want to stay the way they are.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:19–20)

That means that as a Christian, I can expect opposition when I “let my light shine.” However, Jesus makes it clear that this is not to hinder me nor be incentive to put it under a basket. Some will see Jesus in what I do (only when I am in obedience to Him and relying on His power) and then give glory to God.

Lest anyone think this is like boasting about anything else that God has given me, a children’s chorus has these words: “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine… don’t let Satan blow it out, I’m going to let it shine.” Being a light for Christ is a spiritual battle. Not only do other sinners resist the light and love darkness, Satan also tries to stop that light. He wanted Jesus dead and wants me to be more interested in either hiding His light or attracting attention to other stuff that is not important.

Today’s devotional reading says this with blunt clarity. To paraphrase, there is not a single principle of the Christian life that the people of the world do not at heart hate. I will always face opposition to test my character and reveal my priorities. That opposition may come from family or friends. It will hit me in public life and daily tests. It will also reveal if I have strength of devotion sufficient to still shine amidst those who despise the cross. Persecution is God’s testing ground to make the light of Christ the governing principle in all that I do.

2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” – not a welcome promise, yet God allows it to verify the amazing strength of His light, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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