A Vision for Living in the Light

Matthew 5:14-16 – “A Vision for Living in the Light”

“You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

I invite you to take a little journey with me, an adventure, if you will, into this Scripture…..not as tourists, but as explorers, adventurers, to discover some things that we might not have noticed before. We’re going to look at the what, where, who, how, and why in this Scripture……like good explorers, we’re going to give focused attention and test what we see against our experience and against what the Bible tells us. A writer will recognize these elements as good style….storytelling at its finest…..getting to the truth through asking some key questions.

Let’s get oriented to this verse. Read it. Then look at it with these questions in mind.
What does Jesus say that we are? WHAT
Where are we to exercise this attribute? WHERE
For the benefit of whom? WHO
How does that occur, by what means, and what is our role in making it happen? HOW
Toward what goal? WHY

This theme, “A Vision for Living in the Light” encompasses several topics- vision, light, good deeds, and the glory of our Father God…..Each of these is a grand expansive topic. Consider how wonderful this statement by Jesus really is – that WE ARE the light of the world – and why his command to let our light shine is such a high call to holy living!
Some physical realities with which we are familiar and about which we have a good understanding mirror parallel spiritual realities. Many times in Scripture, we see that Jesus uses a physical metaphor to explain a spiritual reality. “You are the light of the world” is such a metaphor.

In the call to cast a vision for living in the light we begin with vision. Vision is a miracle…..whether it is the physical vision of our eyes or the spiritual vision of our hearts and minds. How much do we know about our miraculous sense of sight, our capacity for vision?  Consider for a moment our wonderful ability to employ our sense of sight.

The human eye is a remarkable system. Even Charles Darwin, in developing his theory of evolution found the complexity of the eye a puzzling obstacle that stood out as a problem for him in attempting to explain his theory of evolution in a comprehensive way. Darwin wrote, “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” He found the miracle of vision unexplainable in his evolutionary theory. And yet this fact of the eye’s complexity and it’s defiance of the logic of evolutionary theory has not stopped evolutionists from persisting in their position that God had nothing to do with the creation of the world and humankind! They observe physical phenomena, viewed through something as miraculous as the human eye, which is so complex and wonderful in its function they can’t explain how it could have developed naturally in the context of their theory, and they still persist in believing that their theory, based on what they see and observe with their own miraculous eyes, is right and that God doesn’t exist. This, it seems to me, is a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees, it seems to me.

A quick review of basic anatomy reminds us that the entire capacity for sight is based on the ability to perceive light. As we read a page or view a scene, it is the light that is reflected from the images to our eyes that initiates the sense of sight. The light passes through the center opening of the eye, the pupil. The size of the pupil, and therefore the amount of light allowed to pass through it, is controlled by muscles in the iris, the colored circle around the center dark pupil of the eye.

The iris closes down in bright light and opens up when the light becomes dim. As light enters the eye, it passes through a lens. That focuses the image that is viewed onto a light-sensitive screen-like retina at the back of the eyeball. The retina converts the light energy into an electrical stimulus which is then transferred to the brain. The brain records the information the eye has perceived in the reflected light, and it is stored there for as long as you live.

The human eye is so exquisitely sensitive that it has been demonstrated that one can actually see a single photon of energy, the smallest measure of light energy.
In bright light certain cells in the retina are active and the iris is triggered to close to a smaller size to prevent excessive light exposure. Color vision is fully active under bright light conditions. By contrast, when we enter a dark room, the eyes adapt by opening up the iris to allow more light in. Over a period of about 30 minutes, there are adaptations that make the retina’s cells become more sensitive to dimmer light at about one 10,000th of the level needed for vision in bright light. After this time of vision adjustment we see much better in the dark, but we have very little color vision in such low light conditions.

We human beings are very visual …we use our sense of sight, the ability to take in the light reflected from objects, to interpret much of the world around us. So, we have the gift of physical sight vision through miraculous structures of the eye detecting the presence of light being reflected off of the physical objects that are all around us.
However, what we see because of reflected light is really only a very small part of what actually exists. Humans can see only a narrow segment of the wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation which is the visible light portion of the larger spectrum of energy. We cannot “see” other types of energy such as gamma rays or radio waves. Although we can see and respond to quite a bit of the real physical world around us, there are aspects of this “real world” that we simply cannot see with our unaided vision, or naked eye.

We’ve sort of grounded our thinking about the miraculous nature of our vision and what a complex sensory gift it is, and how necessary light is in the concrete, physical realities of our eyesight. Now consider vision and light’s role from a spiritual perspective, so we can get a better understanding of Jesus’ metaphor of us being the light of the world.

There is a phrase that you may have heard, or even used, to indicate special favor shown to a person or preference for another person. It is a simple phrase: to be “the apple of my eye”. It is a phrase used to imply favor and delight in another person. Have you ever been called the apple of someone’s eye? How did that feel for you to be that special, that loved and cherished? Or have you looked upon someone special in your life and called that special someone the apple of your eye? Perhaps a spouse or a child or a grandchild….

This is a very biblical phrase. It is used in several places.

In Psalm 17:8 we find the Psalmist beseeching God with these words:
“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”

In Proverbs 7:2 we read “Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.” In this verse the Lord is instructing his people through King Solomon’s wisdom.

In Deuteronomy 32:10 we read “In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye.” Here we see the Lord’s behavior toward his people represented by Jacob in seeking, protecting, and guarding him.

In Zechariah 2:8 we read “For this is what the Lord Almighty says: “After he has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you–for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye.”

Ancient people called the pupil of the eye the “apple” of the eye. When two people stand together closely, eye to eye with adequate light shining around and down on them, the pupil of the eye of each person reflects the image of the other. We can see ourselves reflected in the eye of the person with whom we are close in proximity and intentionally focused in an attentive gaze.

When we are close to God and focused on Him, and searching for ourselves in Him (or as He is seeing himself in us!) we are the apple of His eye and He is the apple of ours.
A few years ago I was given a framed picture of an apple branch and it had that phrase on it “You are the apple of God’s eye.” I value it because it reminds me that I am someone special to God. This phrase is a wonderful word picture in scripture of being cherished by God….of being the apple of His eye.

When I hear that phrase, being the apple of one’s eye, the first thing that I notice about being the apple of someone’s eye is the requirement for us to be very close to one another. Close proximity is necessary. One has to be pretty close to another person to see the pupil of that person’s eye.

In order to be able to see one’s own image in the dark pool of the pupil of another’s eye, the two people have to be very close to one another in proximity. About a forearm’s length, about 18-24 inches, is required to get close enough to see one’s reflection in another person’s pupil. So if I am to be the apple of God’s eye or of another person’s eye, or if God or another person is to be the apple of my eye, I have to be close to God
or close to that person. Now God is not a body, so we have to understand this concept in physical terms with another human being so that we can gain spiritual perspective on how it works with God, who is Spirit. The thing to recognize in this is that God desires us to be close to Him, as if we were looking at Him close up, eye to eye.

Secondly, if we are to be the apple of God’s eye, we must be focused on the center of His eye, the pupil. To see the image that is being reflected there requires that we be focused. You can’t just glance at one another or give a nod from a distance or look all about at every other thing within the scope of view and see this remarkable image of yourself in another person’s eye. There must be intention to focus on the center of one another’s eyes.

Thirdly, if we are that close and that focused on one’s eye to be able to see ourselves in the pupil of that person’s eye, there is a sense in which we will need to feel secure. We will not draw that close to another being and remain still and focused on the eyes with a person who does not make us feel safe. The very act of looking deeply into another person’s eyes says, “I am comfortable with you. I feel safe this close to you.” The eyes have been called the window of the soul. To look directly and intently into someone’s eyes risks seeing and being seen for who we really are. And, in fact, when we see our own reflection in another person’s eyes, we are seeing ourselves as we really are and they, too, are seeing us as we really are. And we are seeing them as they really are. There is no hiding from one another at that close distance and with that intent focus. Trust and a sense of being safe and protected are required, if we are to stay in that posture- close in proximity, focused in our gaze with attention on one another’s eyes, and securely intimate – spiritually speaking, near to God’s heart, so much so that we could see ourselves in the pupil of His eyes if he were a physical body, where we will be safe, accountable, and obedient to the Lord.

And even when we glance away for a moment, God does not ever blink or look away. He keeps His eye upon us. He watches us day and night……we are under His watchful care and protection all the time. Even when our eyes are darting about elsewhere……when our focus is lost, when we wander away from his close presence, He is still focused on us!

What a wonderful, loving, good, Father God we have! He loves us! He wants to look into the depth of our eyes – closely, attentively, and intimately – and see in us His own image. That is how he saw Jesus- one in His own image, the most perfect cherished apple of God’s eye. Jesus has provided the means through His death and resurrection for each of us to be seen by the Father as if He was looking at Jesus each time He looks at us, too. Like Jesus, each of us who believes in Jesus is also the apple of God’s eye……his cherished and favorite sons and daughters! That makes me feel very special, to know that I am loved that much by the Almighty God of the Universe.

How wonderful it would be if all people could know that special relationship with God – close, focused, and intimately safe and loved – just like those who have believed in Jesus Christ and know how entirely cherished by God they are, just as Jesus is! Because it is in having that kind of relationship with Jesus Christ that we become, like Jesus, capable of being light in the world for others to see and by which God is glorified.

The physical eyes are windows to the soul. The things that catch our eye, the things on which our eyes linger reveal what is important to us, what is attractive to us. They are one of the means by which we can connect with others….including being able to see in them elements of the majesty of God’s creation…… .

But using our spiritual eyes also gives a glimpse into the soul. They, too, allow us to connect with others, by seeing in one another’s spiritual eyes the spiritual reflection of who we are….. If we are vessels of light, bearing the image of God, who is the light….choosing to live and acting toward one another as God’s beloved sons and daughters, we will see that light in one another reflecting back at us as we look with intentionality, focus, and closeness toward one another. We can look for the righteous reflection of God in one another. The presence of light is what allows physical eyes to work and process the reflection of the light through our eyes into vision.

The presence of God’s holy light in us and around us in others is what allows our spiritual eyes to work as well, reflecting the vision of God in the world so that His glory might be visible to all the world. The light cannot be missed. It will be seen for what it is…..and as it is observed others will know that it comes not from us, but through us, as God is the light.

Are we the source of the light that Jesus says we are to be in the world? Well, not exactly. We are a reflection of God’s light. The Light already exists. It originates with and emanates from the heart of God. God is the source of the Light. He created it. He spoke the Word, “Let there be Light” and light came into being. Ultimately, all Light in a physical and spiritual sense – all Truth, all Knowing, all vision – is a gift from God, it is who God is. We can visualize this in this diagram. The heart of God is the center of a series of concentric circles, like a target, or orbits, representing the goal. That innermost circle is the point at which Light is the brightest, the most pure. All of the space outside of the circles can be thought of as representing the natural world, the physical realm, the place where light is most needed in order to see the truth and not be caught up in the distractions or deceptions. The circles themselves represent points along our spiritual journey……where we live in our faith in relationship to God….How close or how far away.

When we are lost in the wonder, distractions, deceptions, and lusts of the world, we are far from the Light. In such a posture, immersed in the world, we not only are distracted from, turned away from, or shielding ourselves from the real Light, we are outside of the process of journeying in faith with Christ toward the heart of God. The world is a place of spiritual darkness, even though the counterfeit “lights” of numerous pleasures exist there, created by satan as a distraction, luring us away from the true light.
I think of the world like a carnival midway, full of flashing, colored lights and tinny tunes trying to attract our attention. Think of the House of Mirrors…..the House of Horrors…..the Fortune Tellers…..the Games of Chance….the rides designed to thrill……the sticky spun candy……the greasy hot dogs or turkey wings…..the toy guns and balloons or rings tossed on a bottle….the oversized teddy bears and giraffes or useless plastic jewelry and other trinkets…..and some things that appear so harmless, and even sweet, that are really designed to lure you in to spend money…Nothing has any real substance or lasting value ….it’s simply for show. That is the way of the world, it seems, as it exists today under the authority of the powers and principles of this world. Tomorrow those lights will be turned off. The carnival will move on and you will be left wondering…..was anything real or did anything of permanent value come from this fascination with the world?

At the point in our lives when we come to faith in Christ and recognize the value of what Jesus accomplished on the cross for us, at the outer edge of the process defined by the circles, we are still in contact with the world but increasingly are being invited inward toward the Light that we now have come to know as Jesus. The true light, the real light, the steady, unfailing light.

John 8:12 tells us
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

John 9:5 repeats Christ’s claim:
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

The thing about beginning that journey inward toward the heart of God, having the willingness and desire to move ever closer to its center, is that, as we move toward that brilliant glowing heart of God, from outer circles toward the innermost circle, which is the position that Jesus Himself occupies, we, too, become more like Jesus and we are able to begin to reflect the light of the Divine Jesus, God Incarnate, into the world.

We can keep our eyes focused on God, keep Him as the apple of our eye….. be the light that Jesus says we are to be. There are ways that we do that, ways we keep our eyes on God, staying close, focusing on Him, and knowing and enjoying the safety that we feel when we are close to him. And in doing so, we can know without a doubt that, since we are even more special than the sparrows, that His eye is on us, too!

And so, this is a vision that I have for how we can both live, basking in and enjoying the Light that Christ brings to our lives, and how we can become bearers of that light, too, in a world that is often darkened by sin, pursuit of power, wealth, or control, fear, hatred, misunderstanding, deception, unforgiveness, and other influences…….We can begin to see ourselves as reflections in the eye of God, part of His light reflected in the world that can be seen by others, too… dwelling so very close to God, focused in our attention on God and His ways, and secure in our knowledge of God’s love for us and with a desire to be obedient and loving in return….pleasing to Him.

How do you feel about such a vision for yourself? Are you comfortable envisioning yourself dwelling close to the heart of God? Do you feel that you have given yourself to your relationship with Christ, focused on Him sufficiently so that you know what He is like…..what His character is and what He desires from you? And do you feel safe in that place of closeness? Do you trust God’s goodness, His power over your life, and His personal care for your daily needs and desires?

What are the deeds Jesus is referring to in his words to us in our this scripture? How are we to glorify God through them?

We have examined how the gift of our physical sense of sight is analogous to the precious gift of our spiritual sense of sight…..how necessary light is for both our spiritual sense of sight and our physical sense of sight to actually result in vision…..and how the light can be seen in one another when we are close to one another, focused, and comfortable and safe in one another’s presence.

The Bible makes clear that the natural world, the life of the flesh, or self-indulgent pleasure and desires exists around us. W are also told that satan is the prince of this physical realm. And I said that when we begin to sense that something more exists, when our eyes detect even the tiniest single photon of the real Light, or as Jesus said about faith….if one has even faith as tiny as a mustard seed….. when we can see even the tiniest single photon of the real Light, we can begin to adjust our vision so that we can see more clearly and our eyes can enable us to see clearly and accurately….. with all the capability that God has gifted us with to do exactly that.

Even those who are physically blind, who have never looked upon the beauty of the physical creation, can be spiritually very gifted in seeing the truth, the reality, of God’s light. The famous 19th century female hymnist Fanny Crosby, when just a few months old, was blinded by infection that was incorrectly treated. But although she could not see physically, God gave her a wonderful capacity to see spiritually……primarily through study of His word. Left fatherless as an infant due to her father’s illness, she was raised by her mother and grandmother, who taught her to memorize five chapters of the Bible every week from the time she was ten years old. This regular, focused, and intensely close reading of the Word left an imprint on her life. She was able to create beautiful hymns, reflecting the words and themes, the principles and promises of God, in a way that allowed others to connect with God and God’s people, too. Many of her hymns have been favorites of Christian believers for over 100 years now. In her 95 years on earth she wrote over 8000 hymns, as well as several books, contatas, patriotic songs, and numerous poems. Sometimes she would write five or six songs a day. They just seemed to bubble up from within her. She was generous with her music, sharing it with the world. She had the most published sheet music of her era. She was called the “Queen of Gospel Hymns.” God truly put a “new song” in her heart every day! She never used her blindness as an excuse for not accomplishing what she felt was her ability and calling. She attended and then taught at New York’s Institute for the Blind. She was the first female to speak before the U.S. Senate when she made a personal appeal for Congress to support education for the blind. She worked tirelessly in rescue missions all over New York….and gave away money almost as quickly as the music royalties came in to her.

When she died in 1915, her simple headstone bore this statement about her life: “She did what she could.” What a simple, powerful testimony to a life! Her legacy includes songs like:

To God be the Glory, great things He hath done, so loved He the world that He gave us His son…..

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine, Oh what a foretaste of glory divine…..

Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior, hear my humble cry, while on others thou art calling, do not pass me by……

Jesus Is Tenderly Calling you home, calling today, calling today. Why from the sunshine of love will you roam, Farther and farther away……

Praise Him, Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer! Sing, O Earth, His wonderful love proclaim…..

Rescue the Perishing care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave…..

All the Way My Savior Leads Me; What have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who through life has been my Guide?

I Am Thine O Lord I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice, and it told thy love to me; but I long to rise in the arms of faith and be closer drawn to thee. Refrain:
Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, to the cross where thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, to thy precious, bleeding side.

Near the Cross I’ll watch and wait, Hoping, trusting ever, Till I see my Savior’s face, Leave His presence never.

Fanny Crosby’s prolific hymnist’s heart arose from the close relationship she had with Christ and the close familiarity she had with His Word, the Bible….
You and I may never write hymns, but our worship can be as rich and robust as Fanny Crosby’s.
– By reading and meditating on His Word…….
– by sitting quietly and contemplating God’s character and actions as demonstrated to us in a tangible way in the life of the earthly Jesus,
– by praying……….
– by worshipping together,
– by living together in grace, peace, and love as accountable members of the community of faith,
– and by serving one another,
we can experience the Light of God burning in our hearts, as in His.

Philippians 2:14-15 gives us additional specific direction for how to do this:
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

By doing whatever God has called us to do in our lives……vocationally, relationally, financially, recreationally, ……in whatever role we find ourselves….without complaint, without argument, without excuses….we become the light in the world that we are intended to be as Children of the Brilliant Awe Inspiring God and sisters of the Bright Morning Star, Jesus. Like Fanny Crosby we must do what we can……
Can you sing? Sing.
Can you write? Write.
Can you teach? Teach.
Can you create beautiful needlework, crafts or works of art that comfort, inspire, or bring joy to others? Create.
Can you listen with a sympathetic heart to those in pain? Listen.
Can you feed those who are bereaved or ill? Feed them.
Can you read to those whose ability to read has been lost due to age or infirmity or who have not yet learned to read? Read.
Can you give your finances generously to advance the Kingdom of God and relieve suffering in the world? Give.
Can you hold the hand of the dying and await their transition to their new life in eternity? Hold their hands.
Can you stand before court as an advocate for those who are defenseless and bewildered by a system that often befuddles even a Philadelphia lawyer? Stand.
Can you bandage an injury or administer a healing touch? Then heal.
Can you stand as a guardian to protect while others do what they’ve been called to do? Then protect.

You have a gift. You have a calling. You have been created for a unique purpose.

When you draw close to the heart of God and allow His Light to shine on, in the through you, you begin to reflect that Light in a way that banishes the darkness from the world around you. Darkness is not an entity in and of itself. Darkness is manifested only as an absence of Light. When we take on the challenge of Christ to BE the LIGHT of the world, others begin to see the darkness being banished. They begin to see the Light, too. It does not just shine in us or for us. It radiates all around us for others. The more of us, as believers in Christ, who begin to be intentional about moving toward the heart of God, where the brilliant light exists, the more the darkness flees and Light is extended further and further outward.

One day I was watching the morning news as I had a cup of coffee and contemplated the tasks of the day. There was a story about a woman who started an act of kindness chain that lasted for 11 hours at a Starbucks drive-thru in St. Petersburg, Florida by paying for the order of the person in the car behind her.

She ordered an iced coffee at about 7 a.m. Wednesday in St. Petersburg and asked to pay for the caramel macchiato for the stranger in the car behind her. He acknowledged her favor by doing the same thing for the person behind him. The chain kept going as employees began keeping count.

The Tampa Bay Times reported the chain of kindness and goodwill finally ended around 6 p.m. when customer number 379 pulled up and ordered a regular coffee. Starbucks Barista Vu Nguyen leaned out the window and explained to the customer that the chain of goodwill of “Paying it forward” had started earlier in the day, asking if she’d like to participate. She declined, saying she only wanted to pay for her coffee. Nguyen says he doesn’t believe the customer understood the concept of paying it forward.

Paying it forward…..shining a light of blessing and joy in the life of another…..whatever we call it…..however we choose to envision what we are intentionally doing….right where we are with what we have been given…we are fulfilling Christ’s call to BE THE LIGHT of the WORLD! It is not just a matter of feeling good about doing something nice for someone else, although that is a by-product….Our motivation as Christians should be to glorify God by the fact of others seeing the good works being done and knowing that we are doing them in the name of Christ!
Starbucks is not exactly known as a paragon of Christian values, but their employees recognized that something good and smile-worthy was happening after the first few people started this chain. And it is clear that the heart for participating in this chain of goodwill that continued for 11 hours by their customers shows that there were a considerable number of people in the chain who recognized that something true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy was happening and they chose to be a part of it…

Those characteristics—-just listed— are from Philippians 4:8. The apostle Paul tells us to think on such things…..to make them a priority. Why? Because they are part of the character of God, exemplified for us in Christ…They reveal the heart of God…..Just as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 4:22 reveals the heart of God…..which tells us that life in the Holy Spirit brings love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. And the list in 1 Corinthians 13 of the characteristics of love, which we are to embrace, reveal the heart of God, who is LOVE….. patient, kind, not envying, not boastful, not proud, honoring others, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeping no record of wrongs, not delighting in evil but rejoicing with the truth, always protecting, always trusting, always hoping, always persevering, unfailing, wise, speaking maturely, complete and whole.

In some church traditions, such as those influenced by John Wesley, “good deeds” or “good works” may be spoken of in two ways:
Works of “Piety” and Works of “Mercy” .

Embracing the character of God and growing into the kind of person that can reflect the light of Christ that emanates from the Heart of God’s is identified as “works of piety”…..hungering and thirsting for righteousness in our own lives so that we surrender ourselves to the refining work of the Holy Spirit and engage in the transformational spiritual disciplines that bring us closer and closer into alignment with the heart of God….looking increasingly like Jesus Christ, who showed us how to do that in our…..and his…..humanness. Those spiritual disciplines include behaviors, habits of the heart, like Bible study, prayer, meditation, worship, simplicity, generosity, accountable fellowship, contentment, and more.

As we engage in these spiritual disciplines sincerely and faithfully, our hearts begin to be illuminated by God’s character growing in us. We also then find ourselves drawn toward engagement in “works of mercy”…..the acts of kindness and justice toward others in the world that truly sheds that light broadly all around us. The motivation for doing those acts of kindness and justice is to live out the heart of God in the world…..not to make ourselves feel good or to be seen by others as “good people”. When we are rightly motivated to do good works- whether it is works of piety and personal righteousness in order to be more Christ-like or works of mercy and social justice and goodness on behalf of others and our society at large in order to bring about the Kingdom of God in the world ….then God is glorified…..not we ourselves or the families or churches or companies or agencies that we represent.

Our good works, good deeds, are not about marketing, not to gain news coverage or spread the name of our personal franchise, whether it is business or religious ….. our good deeds are about worship. When we engage in them as a result of having embraced the Light of Christ, desiring to be the Light in the world, and merging closer and closer to the Heart of God, the reason for which we were created is fulfilled…..God is glorified through us.

Here is one last bit of goody….that comes to me as I have studied this Scripture…..It’s a little word….”let” . This is a voluntary choice. Christ will not demand it of us. He will not drive us to it. He will not pull us in with a tractor beam…..This is our choice. To move closer and closer to the Heart of God. Many of us orbit at a safe distance, barely inside the Kingdom realm or trying to straddle the margin between the Kingdom of God and that of the World….such individuals may feel they have their fire insurance against an eternity in hell, but they are not prepared to move close enough toward the heart of God to really be challenged about their preferences, their convenience, their comfort, their financial security, their entertainment choices, and on and on….

Some may fear that they will be asked to give up something that they are not willing to give up for the sake of God like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19: 16-26 who asked Christ what good deeds he must do to have eternal life. When Christ told him to keep the commandments, he told Christ he had kept all of the law. So, when Christ told him to give his riches to the poor and follow Christ, he walked away grieving, unwilling to go to that extreme. For himself, he made a choice. He had achieved about all of the kingdom of God he was willing to have. Do you have about enough of God, about all that you are willing to embrace…choosing to orbit at distance? Or are you desiring more and more of the Heart of God….to have your vision sharpened and clarified for living in the light, to live in that light, to become the light? Choose to move toward the Heart of God…toward a life lived in the model of Christ’s.

Have we answered all of the questions? .
What does Jesus say that we are?              WHAT             LIGHT
Where are we to exercise this attribute? WHERE           IN THE WORLD
For the benefit of whom?                            WHO                OTHERS
How does that occur? What is our role?   HOW               LET OTHERS SEE GOOD DEEDS
Why? Toward what goal?                            WHY                GOD IS GLORIFIED

There’s just one aspect of this story, one question, that has not been answered. It is WHEN? When will you make the decision to move closer to the Heart of God? When will you embrace the spiritual disciplines consistently and cultivate an increasingly committed life of righteousness? When will you move closer toward the heart of God in allowing your resources of time, money, and talents to be used for the good of others in works of mercy… in justice, kindness and generosity for the sake of the Kingdom?
This scripture is a challenge to us to enlarge our vision for living in the light. Through these simple questions- who, what, where, how, why, and when- turned from examining the Scripture to examining ourselves, we can accept the challenge, and merge the story of our lives with the story of Christ’s life, indeed, with the story of God’s reason for creating the world and begin to BE the Light in a more brilliant and world transforming way.

I pray that you take up the challenge offered here by Christ. LET your LIGHT SHINE! Shine, Brothers and Sisters, Shine!