Represent The Light
Last year we were blessed to have Bishop Donald Hilliard for a 3 day revival. The theme of the revival was; it’s time to go to church. On the last night he spent about an hour in dialogue with leaders answering questions and discussing issues that were close to their hearts. Somewhere in the midst of that discussion Bishop Hilliard told us that he could see bright lights on the corners of this building. The vision he had was that of bright lights attached to the building so that when people came anywhere near this location the church would stand out. That’s what light does, it draws attention to itself.
Riding home the other night I noticed a moving spot light in the night sky. Round in circles it moved in a rhythmic pattern. Immediately I concluded that it must be one of those lights that car dealerships use to advertise their location or ongoing sale event. I never did see where it was coming from…all I saw was the light as it was drawing attention to itself, but that is exactly what light does.
Jesus, in our passage of scripture is telling his disciples that they are the light of the world. Notice he said this to his disciples and not to the crowds of people that followed him from time to time. Could not everyone be the light of the world? Unfortunately the answer is no. If any of us choose to walk in darkness than we have forsaken the privilege of being the light of the world. Why? Because our scripture this morning tells us that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. So, if we choose to walk in darkness than we have also chosen to walk outside and away from the light of God.
Life for those who have chosen this path is not full of good news, but for those who have chosen to be disciples of the Lord then there are some express responsibilities for being the light of the world. Our first responsibility is to represent or draw attention to the Lord and not ourselves. Light draws attention to itself, but since the light within us comes from God, we draw attention to God. In other words, as we walk in the light…as we are the light of the world we are really representing. We represent the source of that light which is God. Just like the bright light in the sky draws attention to the car dealership and thereby represents something special happening here, so too does the light of God in us draw attention. But when people come to check out our light we let them know that the source of what you see happening on the outside is really the Holy Spirit working on the inside. Therefore our first responsibility as the light of the world is to represent God when people come to check us out.
Our second responsibility as the light of the world is to make ourselves available to the Light! It is not difficult to make ourselves available to the Lord. It simply requires fellowship with God and one another. How often do we find ourselves willing to make time for God but unable to find much of any time for God’s people, especially those who are wondering around in utter darkness? We’ll inch out a few moments of meditation here and there, and then walk away thinking we’ve really flexed our spiritual muscles. Yet, when the call goes out to take your light where darkness is dense, then we don’t find that to be the place where our light is worthy of shining. The word of God says that if we walk in the Light we have fellowship one with another. We make ourselves available one with another. God is calling for us to represent, not just in our private time of prayer, but to be available for any and all assignments. God is calling us to represent, not just inside the building but in the corner store, walking through the neighborhood. As we make ourselves available to God, the Lord will direct us to where we can go and represent. Are you available to represent?
Okay pastor, I hear you talking about how disciples of Jesus are the light of the world. I hear you talking about how we as the light of the world must make ourselves available in order to represent the Lord. But I’m not sure what that means to represent nor if I know how to do it. Well, we represent God by revealing who God is through our lifestyles. 1Peter 2:9 tells us that “we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” Is there anybody in here who trusts God when He calls you chosen? Royal? Priesthood a holy nation? Is there anybody in here who believes God when He says that you proclaim His excellencies? Our lifestyles tell the darkness of this world that God is a present help in a time of trouble. Our lifestyles tell those in darkness and Jesus know and cares about you. Our lifestyles tell those in darkness that God is trustworthy and His church is a good place to invest your future.
Your ability to represent God is not based on your old life, but on your new life in Christ Jesus. You no longer stand alone, no…you stand as someone chosen to represent the Lord. Chosen people know that there is something different and special about their lives. When you trust that God has called you His own then you know you do not face darkness by yourself. You face the darkness of this world with God on your side as a good friend, in front of you as a light unto your pathway and behind you as a shield and buckler.
Darkness is all around us. We see it driving down the street, when we step outside the church, when we attempt to engage people in conversation. Their sense of lost has overwhelmed them to the point of not even realizing just how lost they are. If we were left to address the darkness on our own we would be out before we started. But God doesn’t tell us to represent ourselves. We are to represent the Lord. God also did not tell us to shoulder the entire circumstance alone. What God does require of us, at the very least, is to represent right where we are. Not every ministry will be a worldwide ministry, but every ministry should be a light right where they are.
I close with Bishop Hilliard’s vision that he shared with us last year. In essence he saw more than that one light outside right over the window. He saw industrial size street lights that lit the corner where we are located. The one light above the door is really self-serving. It helps us see where to put the key when we enter and exit the building at night. Secondly, it keeps the building from being in utter darkness. But it does nothing to draw attention to our presence on this corner. Here is the challenge for each disciple. We need to stop letting only enough light to shine that meets only our individual needs. We need to exude the kind of light that Bishop Hilliard saw in the spirit, the kind that draws attention, the kind that says something to the community. We are capable of having industrial size street lights radiating inside our spirits so that it represents the great God that we serve.
A porch light helps us get in and out of the building, but God needs us to be the kind of light that cancels out the darkness of drug dealers right across the street. A porch light helps us see the step in front of the door, but God needs us to be the kind of light that guides others each step along their journey. A porch light is helpful to us but it fails to represent the great I AM. It fails to represent the all sufficient one. It fails to represent the excellency of God.
I dare not attempt to tell your testimony, but God has been too good to me for me to try to represent with a porch light. I dare not forget to represent that with God in my life I can do all things because He strengthens me. I dare not forget to represent that God takes my weeping and turns it into dancing. I dare not forget to represent that God has promised good to me. I dare not forget to represent that God can reverse the order…He can take the last and make them the first…He can take those on the outside and bring them into the center of His will…He can take those who have been cast down and pick them up and place them on top.
Don’t you dare attempt to represent such a great God with a little porch light, go and get your best and show forth the excellencies of God. God get your best demonstration of goodness…get your best outpouring of loving kindness…get your very best offerings…get your very best words of encouragement…get your best and brightest expression of joy unspeakable full of glory. We might not be able to light up all of Detroit, but we sure can light up 16th and Ferry Park. We can light up West Grand and Rosa Parks. What about you church…can you light up Kentucky or Oneida? Can you light up Mark Twain or Merrick? Can you light up Hazelwood or Pinehurst? From Cardoni to Carter, Christ needs to be represented.