"BRIGHT AND SHINING"



Last Week's Sermon



This passage is about more than simply being a good example. 
When my son was about the age of his younger son,
occasionally we’d leave him at home alone for a little while in the afternoon after school. 
It wasn’t the best situation, but we knew we could trust him to use good sense and not set the house on fire. 
But … we had a rule that he couldn’t have any friends over to the house on those afternoons. 
Because it’s hard to be the one who stands up for doing what’s right.
When all around you your friends are doing what’s
fun or easy,
or out and out wrong
Children aren’t the only ones subject to peer pressure
grownups have been known to go along with the crowd, too
have you ever been at a party or even worse, a business meeting
where someone starts telling a joke that is a put down of some other race or group
you don’t agree with them
you certainly won’t tell another racist joke
but still
when everyone else is guffawing at the punch line
you at least smile
you don’t want to be rude
you don’t want to stand out in the crowd as the only person who is too holy to have a sense of humor.
You weren’t exactly pressured into going along with the crowd
(unless it was the boss who was telling the joke)
still it was just easier to go with the flow
Or maybe you’ve been out with friends and found yourself spending more money than you intended
They picked a restaurant you really couldn’t afford
and even though it meant that you’d have to put off dropping that check in the offering plate,
you didn’t want to let on that you weren’t quite as willing to spend that much money on entertainment
there’s no shame in having different priorities than your friends
there’s not even any shame in being poorer than your friends
but still, you went along and kept to yourself the fact that the money you are spending had been earmarked for something else
no pressure, just going with the flow
who wants to stand out as the only one who is different?
Those are “little things” right?
We’re not talking about doing anything really wrong
we’re just talking about not doing something radically right
not making an issue of your values, your attitudes, your Christianity.
But when Jesus talked to the Jews gathered on that hillside
he wasn’t talking about their doing any big thing wrong
he was talking about their not doing what God had called them to do
not being what God had chosen them to be
you see God had chosen them from among all the nations
God had revealed God’s self to the children of Abraham
and God had given them the law
And God had a purpose for that
the children of Israel were chosen to stand out from the crowd
to let their light rise in the darkness
to shine with such a radiance
that other nations would see their light and know the glory of their God
that other nations would be drawn to their God,
would become curious
and want to know more
to shine with righteousness so that other nations would know what righteousness looked like.
But the children of Abraham were missing the point
Almost from the start they longed to become “like other nations”
vying for political advantage
looking out for themselves
going with the flow
In a world where God’s people should have been radically different from unenlightened pagans around them
they had lost their distinctive flavor
they had become as bland as any other group of people
just trying to survive without drawing too much attention to themselves
And we Christians?
We have been chosen by God
God has revealed to us the identity of his only son
and we have received the good news
of Christ’s sacrifice for us
the forgiveness of our sins
and the hope of resurrection
But God had a purpose for choosing us
We have been chosen to stand out from the crowd
to let our light shine before others,
so that they may see our lives, our good works,
and give glory to our Father in heaven.
We have been chosen to shine with such a radiance
that the unbeliever will see our light and know the glory of our God
so that others will be drawn to our God,
will become curious
and want to know more
We have been chosen to shine with joy and forgiveness and love for our neighbor
so that everyone will know what being a child of God looks like.
But in a world where Christians should be radically different from the unenlightened ones around us
we have lost our distinctive flavor
we have become as bland as any other group of people
just trying to survive without drawing too much attention to themselves
It’s not enough to go through life without doing any thing really wrong
You and I are chosen, elect among the nations,
not just to be saved
but to be light and salt
to be bright and shining
to be beacons that shine on a hill
drawing others to the glory of our God
And so,
if we don’t stand out in the crowd
if we don’t call attention to ourselves
if we don’t do what’s radically right
if we don’t serve as a bright and shining example
then we are doing wrong
if we don’t show others how to do what is right,
if we don’t teach what we know to those who do not know God
then we are teaching them that it’s okay to do wrong
and we are teaching them that it doesn’t matter
and we are breaking this commandment:
Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

 

Let us pray:
Holy God, you gave the law to show your people the way of righteousness.
Help us receive your commandments as grace and live as your obedient children that your goodness may shine through us, to the glory of your name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.