A sermon on Matthew 5:13-16 for Mission Festival October 3, 2019.
What do you want to be when you grow up? A little child dreams of going to space to be the first person to walk on Mars, fighting crime as a superhero, or becoming the next famous professional athlete. Their dreams remain big as they have all sorts of excitement to look forward to. As that child gets older, the career choices might become more narrowed down. Over the course of the years they have assessed their talents and interests to hone in on some sort of occupation. They look at becoming a police officer, accountant, lawyer, or doctor. The careers might change many times before they settle on one specific one. For others they go to college not knowing what they want to do.
What if all the freedom of choosing a career was taken away from you? How would you feel? No figuring out a major for college. No matching interests and talents with the career. You will receive a piece of paper stating your job for the rest of your life. Would this be of any interest? Would this even work?
As Christians we have a job to do. This job was never a choice given to us, but it is expected that we will just do it. We need to fulfill all the requirements of the job for it comes from the biggest boss we could ever have.
We Are His Witnesses
Jesus was right in the middle of his Sermon on the Mount. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave his followers advice on living for him. He taught his followers about placing their trust in him rather than worrying about all things. Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer to use. Also in this section Jesus spoke about the Christian being a witness in the world.
Jesus compares the Christian to light. Light is very important. We become spoiled that all we have to do is walk into a room and flip a switch immediately bringing forth light. This light enables us to see. If the electricity goes out, we reach for a flashlight. The flashlight lights our path so that we do not stumble over any obstacles scattered in our way. Light is important.
Imagine for a moment that you are in an unfamiliar house. No flashlights available. Away from the bright lights of the city. Clouds hide the moon. All of a sudden the power goes out. It is pitch dark, a darkness that you can feel. Cautiously you walk around the room. Arms are outstretched so that you do not walk straight into a wall. Your steps are small and deliberate lest an accidental step leads to a fall down the steps. Panic. Patiently you maneuver around until some kind of light can be found. Once a light comes on, you will breathe a sigh of relief on being able to find the way once more.
Light is so important. The sun gives light and life to this world. Our Lord and Savior is the main light of our life and the world. He came down into this world to bring light and life. Through his perfect keeping of the laws he served as our substitute. His death upon the cross, as innocent as it was, paid the penalty for all our sins. His resurrection assures us of our resurrection. Now Jesus shines in all glory.
Jesus has given the light of faith to his believers. Jesus now commands us to be lights upon this earth for his work. We are witnesses. We live to reflect the light of the Light of the World for all people to see.
It would be silly to have a light only to hide it. Even Jesus tells us how absurd that would be, “A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket.” (Matthew 5:14-15). Light only is useful when it shines. We cannot hide it. We cannot expect it to have the same results if it is covered up. “No, they put it on a stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house” (Matthew 5:15). Light illumines. Light shines upon everything around it.
“In the same way let your light shine in people’s presence” (Matthew 5:16). We live in a dark world. Even though the sun shines upon us giving us the ability to live, we live in a world surrounded by death and sin. So many people live in the darkness of unbelief. They do not know about Jesus as their Savior from sin. They have wandered away from the church because of misplaced priorities. They would rather allow a job or sports to take the place of Jesus. They value sleep more than coming together with their brothers and sisters in worship. Others may have just have let their lack of church attendance become habit forming.
We are God’s witnesses. We serve as his messengers, his lights, in this dark world. We know about the good news of the gospel. We know the tremendous blessing that God has given to us in his Son. We savor the forgiveness of sins and the peace it brings to our life. Will we be content to hide this news to ourselves? Will we hide the joy out in public, only to rejoice in private?
Our faith cannot remain hidden. We let our light shine before men. We are his witnesses. We cannot help but let our light shine for all people. Our hope is this, “So that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We do not take any of the glory for ourselves. We do not want people saying, “Look at how good of a person they are.” We want them to say, “Look how good of a God they have.” We only reflect the true light that comes from Christ.
Our prayer is that those people might also see the light. They will see the love of God in our actions and words. We want them to see Jesus. We want them to experience the same joy we have in our life. We want them to know the peace God brings through his saving grace in a person’s life. It does not matter for what reason they left the church. It does not matter the sins committed. Christ wants these people back in the light. Christ comes to bring peace and joy to hearts filled with sin.
This means we need to be willing to be God’s witnesses. So often people say that they are not a good witness for God. They fumble for the right words to speak. They do not know anyone to invite to church. We cannot be content just to come and sit in the pews every week. We do not want our light to be hidden for six days of the week. In the end God does not give us a choice. We are his witnesses.
We do not have to be the most charismatic person leading others like the Pied Piper to church. We all know someone that needs to hear God’s Word. It might be a family member that has wandered away from the church. We can lead them back with a gentle reminder of their baptism. We can point them back to their confirmation vows. We might have a neighbor that has been struggling with health issues or a recent death to a family member. We can bring the good news of Jesus’ peace in the midst of chaos and sorrow. It might be a friend that we just give a simple invitation to church. We want them to come and see Jesus.
God never demands that we be like Paul traveling the world preaching to all. God does command that we let the light of our faith shine in the world for all people to see. We are his witnesses. We are simply the middle man. We cannot change the heart of a single person. We simply preach the gospel. We share the Word of God. We live as a reflection of all the things God has done for us. God does all the heavy lifting. He will change hearts.
We are his witnesses. We want the Word of God to spread to all nations and people. This can start in our own backyard. We continue into our community. We continue to spread God’s Word into all the world. We are lights. We shine for all to see the true light of the world who came to save them.
The job is there. God has given us instructions on how to carry it out. We are his witnesses to shine in this world so that all may praise their Father in heaven. Amen.