Will We Be Silent or Will We Shine?

Will We Be Silent or Will We Shine?

I doubt that anyone here this morning will disagree that we live in the midst of a sinful culture. It is a culture in which “tolerance” of practically anything and any philosophy is accepted except Christianity. Immorality is no longer considered a sin. There is a “live and let live” attitude in the culture that allows each person to decide for himself what is right and what is wrong. And no one has the authority to criticize what we decide for ourselves.

As a result of this attitude, laws are passed making it a criminal offense to discriminate against someone based on his lifestyle or gender perception. Now, I’m against discrimination, but that isn’t really what these laws are about. Instead, these laws are about forcing Christians to accept sinful lifestyles and silencing them from warning people about the consequences of their sin.

Consequently, homosexuality that once was criminal is now legitimate, and what is Biblical is now criminal and hateful. Today, nearly 50% of children are born out of wedlock. Another million babies per year are aborted. Maybe you are tired of hearing about these things. Certainly, our culture is tired of hearing Christians calling these things sin, evil, and wicked, and they want to render us silent. But God declares disaster upon people who legitimize what God says is wrong.

Isaiah 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

Such is the culture in which we live. Now, what should we as Christians do? Are we to remain silent as our culture demands?

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Paul was writing to Christians who lived in a culture worse than ours. He encourages us to be alert to the temptations around us and not to compromise the Truth. We are to continue sharing the Good News about Jesus, preaching against sin, and calling people to repent, even if we are ridiculed, persecuted, or jailed for doing so. However, to be effective, we must testify in love by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

Our culture needs to hear this message. People are going to die in their sin and go to Hell, if we don’t share the Truth with them. At the same time, Christians must refuse to compromise Christ’s love. We can be angry at the devil and sin, and at the same time, love people bound by sin and Satan. As Christians, we are to be loving and kind and gentle while speaking the Truth.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

We represent Jesus! We are His ambassadors. Therefore, we must act like Him so people will come to know Jesus, their Savior, and repent. Blasting people with the Truth, and angrily condemning them, doesn’t draw people to Jesus. It shoves them away from Him.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

We should always remember that these people, who may oppose us and engage in conduct that angers us, are people for whom Christ died. He loves them. And we must love them too. Love commands us to try and rescue a person even though they reject us, the Gospel, and the message: that without Christ, they are without hope.

What is happening in our culture is not an issue of politics. It is about Jesus being God. It is about Jesus being the Way, the Truth, and the Light. It is a war with the spirit of the anti-Christ.

So what should we do in the face of an increasingly loud demand for Christians to “shut up and crawl back into your church buildings!”? To some degree, we have done that. As a result, the culture is rapidly getting worse.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

When Jesus says that we are the light of the world, it means God has deposited His Light, the Holy Spirit in us, and we are to let it shine. While we are here, in this dark evil world, we are to disseminate His Light in the darkness!

The early church understood this, they lived in a pagan culture where there was a multiplicity of gods. They lived in a land where the government said Caesar is the ultimate god. Nevertheless, Christians refused to be silent and proclaimed Jesus Christ is Lord despite the personal cost to themselves. In the face of death, they stood for what they believed and knew to be true. They eventually overcame the paganism of their culture by shining the Light of Jesus.

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." 

Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing, because Jesus is the real Light of the world. We are not the source of Light, we only reflect the Light of Jesus, like the moon reflects the sunlight. The Holy Spirit in us gives us grace to reflect the Light of Jesus to others by what we say and do.

Ephesians 5:8-9 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)

The Light will expose that which is not truth! If we are going to reflect the Truth, then we need to conduct ourselves as Christ’s followers and diligently work to stay near Jesus, our source of Light. This is why Jesus tells us to follow Him, and why we are told to be holy, and why we are told to do His will and obey His commandments—so we reflect His Light and the Truth of His Word.

Jesus told His disciples, that like a city on a hill or a lamp in a lampstand, it is the duty of a Christian to stand out—not for prominence sake—but for the spreading of the Gospel, as a light in a dark world.

How do we reflect the Light? Do we go up to someone and just tell them that we are a Christian, and that they are going to Hell if they don’t become one? That approach is like shining a flashlight in someone’s face. It makes them turn away from the Light and close their eyes. No, we are to reflect the Light of Jesus through our example, our words, and our good works. People will listen to what we believe if our actions demonstrate our faith.

1 Pet 2:11-12 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

There was a time when the culture was influenced by the Light shining from the Church, and from the folks who were in the Church. Most members of the Church were living right and doing right, and loving one another unconditionally. People could see the Light of Jesus reflected in their life. During that time, society benefited from the Light of the Church and looked to it as a guiding light for our laws and culture.

But, something happened. People in the Church stopped being humble and became snobbish and hypocritical. They stopped obeying God and letting the Light of Jesus shine. They stopped loving one another and other people like they used to love. Members stopped praying and seeking the Holy Spirit like they used to do.

Sadly, the problems didn’t originate in the pews. Shepherds stopped feeding the sheep the Truth and began talking about psychology, science, politics, and unity with other religions. Preachers stopped preaching the Word of God and became entertainers. They went on TV and conned viewers for money to support their lavish lifestyles in the name of “ministry”. Seminaries stopped presenting the Bible as infallible and introduced doubt, scientific theories, and nullified the miracles and power of God by teaching that those things were for back then and no longer happened today. As a result, the Church lost her “shine” and her influence in the culture.

So, what can we—what can one Christian do amid the corruption of the Church and the darkness of this generation? Actually, we can do a lot.

Philippians 2:14-15 Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 

We live in a world full of grumbling, complaining, and arguing. We can individually shine just by not doing those things. If we are genuinely thankful, grateful, peaceful, joyful, praising God and blessing people, we will be noticed like a city on a hill. We will shine like stars in the universe.

It’s time for Christians to get back to the Source of their Light. It is time to be obedient. It’s time to pray and seek God and His Spirit, so we have power to be His witness and the grace to love one another, our enemies, and sinners. It is time stop pointing fingers and look in a mirror and ask ourselves what kind of light we are reflecting!

It is only through Jesus, that we can receive the true Light, the Holy Spirit, who will boldly and brightly shine through us. And if Jesus is shining in our lives, we become like a house on a hill, and stars in the universe. We don’t have to go out trying to be noticed; we will be noticed because our words, actions, and attitudes will speak loudly. What we are doing, if we are doing it in the name of the Jesus, will not only be seen by Him, but it will be seen by the whole world.

We, as individual members of the Body of Christ, must understand that it’s not about us, but it’s all about Jesus. It’s not about our name being spread all over the land, but it’s all about spreading the Name of Jesus. It’s not about how many people come to our meetings, but it’s all about how many lives can be touched by Jesus as we go out into the world!

Jesus said, John 9:5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Jesus is in the world as long as Christians are in the world to shine His Light. Once again, we cannot manufacture the Light. When we are following Jesus, we will be in the Light of Jesus and we will reflect His Light, just like a diamond reflects the light surrounding it. Until Jesus takes the Church home, He wants to shine in the world through us!

Church buildings often have a sign near them to let people know something about the congregation that meets there. Would you ever attend a church where the sign read, "Come to our church: we are a bunch of negative, conceited, argumentative, stubborn, obnoxious people"?

No, you wouldn’t. Well, you are a church sign. People don’t attend churches where the human church signs give the same message! Our lives should testify about Jesus and exhibit His character so people know they will be in His presence when they come here. By our conduct, they should know they will be loved and accepted in our meetings.

Then, while they are in His presence and hearing His Word concerning sin, righteousness, judgment, and salvation, the Holy Spirit will do His work of convicting, loving, giving grace to repent and faith to believe in Jesus. He will change their minds and lives. But they won’t ever come if we are not lifting up Jesus by being like Him, for Jesus said in John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

When Jesus walked on the earth, sinners were drawn to Him. Sinners would still be drawn to Jesus today if they could see His light shining in His followers! Then, by associating with us, they will know He is holy by our holiness. Likewise, they will know God is a God of love by our love.

That’s why Jesus was so effective (and sometimes why we’re not). He showed holiness and love to everyone. He attracted followers by being kind, generous, unselfish, friendly, courteous, thoughtful, and—righteous. Since these are not natural characteristics of our sinful nature, we need the Holy Spirit of Jesus abiding in us, reflecting the character of Christ in this dark culture.

Jesus helped people, asking nothing in return. He was just as accommodating to lepers as He was to rulers. He didn’t discriminate along ethnic or gender lines. He gave His full attention to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews in John 3, and to a Samaritan woman in John 4.

On the other hand, some people rejected Jesus. Jesus said some people will treat us the same way. They will do this because they love darkness rather than the Light, and don’t want to admit that their deeds are evil.

John 3:19-20 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.

Nevertheless, Christians are here to shine as lights in this dark world so those who are seeking the Truth can find the Truth—Jesus Christ. So, my brothers and sisters, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and come to believe in Jesus Christ.

If your light is dim, hard to see, or flickering on and off, confess this to your Father in Heaven. If you ask Him, He will show you the cause and give you grace to change. If you confess and repent of your sin, He will forgive you and renew His Spirit in you.

However, if you don’t repent, then you will remain full of darkness. A “Christian”, full of darkness is worse than an unbeliever who is full of darkness, because they are blind to their condition and think they have light.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:23 If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Jesus is the Light of the World. He wants to deliver you from the darkness and fill you with the Light of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “Come unto Me.”

Maybe you can’t reflect any light because you have never come to the Light. The dark is a scary place, but maybe you feel secure there, and you are afraid of the Light. You don’t need to be afraid of Jesus. He is gentle, loving, and kind. He understands how you got where you are, but He also wants to save you from the destruction ahead of you.

Jesus invites you to come into His Light by repenting of your sin and accepting His atonement for it on the Cross. He paid your penalty so you can turn away from those things that bring death and darkness into your life. Let Him give you a new life by dying to yourself through water baptism and being born again of the Holy Spirit. Then the life and Light of Jesus Christ will be in you. Everything will appear brighter to you, and you will shine as you reflect His Light. 

  December 2017  
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