“You are the light of the world. A town built 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 others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
Let me begin by asking a familiar question: “If it was a crime for me to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict me?” Let me put it another way: “If it were a crime to be a non-Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict me?” To answer this latter question, I must confess that I WOULD HAVE BEEN CONVICTED on at least two recent occasions and undoubtedly many more over the years. First, when dealing with customer service of a certain phone utility a couple of weeks ago. No details needed! And more recently in a parking lot, when in a grumpy mood I honked my horn and expressed my chagrin at another driver who cut me off!
At the most recent Session (church elders) meeting, one of the elders shared a devotion regarding the gift of witness as it relates to reflecting light and referenced the life of John the Baptist. She quoted John 1:8: “He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.” And that Light is identified in verses 4 and 5 as Jesus in Whom was life and Whose life is the light of humankind shining in the darkness.
Now, we all know that the moon has no light in and of itself; it only reflects the source of the light, namely the sun giving light to an otherwise dark universe. In a sense, the moon is a faithful witness that validates the truth about the sun being the sustainer of physical life on the earth.
Like John the Baptist, the apostle Peter was an eyewitness of Jesus and testified, or bore witness, regarding Jesus’ mission: his birth, his life, His witness, His message of salvation, His death, His resurrection. Ironically, the Greek word for ‘witness’ is μαρτυρία (or μάρτυς) transliterated into English as ‘martyr’. Do you know of any Christians who lost their lives bearing witness to the Gospel message? Witnesses are those whose lives and actions testify to the absolute trustworthiness and impact of faith in God. But how often, by our own conduct, do we hide the reflected light of God’s love for us under a bushel? Are we witnesses today of God’s absolute Truth in both word and deed?
I share the following story which describes a poor reflection of God’s light in our world today. Can you, with me, identify with anybody in this story entitled “In the Driver’s Seat”, told by Joe Stowell, a fellow student of mine at Dallas Theological Seminary? He writes,
“I enjoy the story of the stressed-out woman who was tailgating a man on a busy boulevard. When he slowed to a stop at a yellow light, the woman hit the horn, cussing and screaming in frustration and gesturing angrily.”
[This sounds like me sometimes, and maybe you? Feel free to confess if you agree! Now back to the story.]
“Still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window. It was a police officer, who ordered her to exit the car. He took her to the police station and placed her in a holding cell.“An hour later, the officer returned and said, “I’m sorry, ma’am. This has been a big mistake. When I saw how you were acting and then saw your, ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ licence plate holder and your ‘Follow Me to Sunday School’ bumper sticker, I assumed the car was stolen!”Joe continues, “Satan wants to see Christians who don’t act like they belong to Jesus. If he can get us to live like the ungodly, he knows we will dishonour the name of Christ in the process.“Here’s a better way: ‘Let your reflected light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’ ” [reference to Matthew 5:16]
The apostle Peter writes in his first epistle these words:
The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:
Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly:
Nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” 1 Peter 5:1-4
May God help each of us both by word and deed, to be a witness of His love, grace and mercy at Haliburton United Church but also in a world all around us still gripped by moral and spiritual darkness. May He enable us to be part of the solution rather than being a part of the problem.
Oh… and by the way, it’s not a crime to be a witness in Canada, so let’s make every effort to be ‘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…” Philippians 2:15
Paul Cornish, BA THM
Our thanks to Paul Cornish for this devotion, one of many by various contributors posted by Haliburton United Church and Haliburton Pastoral Charge. If you would like to submit a devotion for consideration, please email us.