I’m Gonna Let it Shine

5th Sunday after Epiphany

I’m Gonna Let It Shine

Text:  Matthew 5:13-20

The Green Bay Packers made unprecedented history this last week.  Last Sunday evening the Packers defeated the Pittsburg Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV.  It was their fourth Super Bowl championship.  But even though this was a crowning moment of achievement, something all players dream of but few attain, imagine if they did something astounding.  What if they didn’t tell anyone.  They didn’t celebrate.  They didn’t have a parade.  They quietly rejoiced amongst themselves and had a private and subdued celebration.

John and Sarah were in love.  They were the happiest of couples.  They had a great relationship.  They had loving families.  They had tons of friends.  But John and Sarah did something very unexpected.  They went to the courthouse and got married.  They didn’t tell anyone.  They didn’t send out invitations or announcements.  They didn’t have a party.  They didn’t register at Target.  They just got married and went about their regular lives.

Bill and Heather couldn’t believe the great news.  They were going to have a baby!  After wanting a child for so long now they finally were going to be parents.  But they didn’t call anyone with eager excitement.  They didn’t send out text messages to all their friends.  Heather hid her growing tummy during the pregnancy.  Then they didn’t even tell anyone when the baby was born.  No tweets.  No updates or pictures on Facebook.  They kept their beautiful little baby to themselves.

How could that be?  It doesn’t make sense!  When you are going to have a baby you want to tell everyone the exciting news.  When the baby is born you want to show off pictures to everyone you know.  When you are getting married you want to invite everyone you can possibly afford.  You want to take pictures and hang them on your wall and send them in your Christmas cards.  And when you win a Super Bowl you go crazy.  You throw your cheeseheads up in the air.  You make TV appearances and funny commercials.  You invite over 70,000 fans to an outdoor party at Lambeau field in freezing temperatures (like the Packers really did this week).

When something special has happened, you want to share the good news!  When something amazing has happened to you, you want others to know and to experience it too!  When you have great news, you’re going to tell everyone you know!

Then why don’t we?  Why do we Christians have the hardest time sharing our faith?  Why is it so difficult for us to live and speak what we believe?  We’ll gladly put a “Baby on Board” sticker in the car window or write “Just Married” all over the car, but we hesitate to put up a cross or a Christian fish.  We’ll go to parenting and birthing classes and share our joys of children with others, but attending Bible class is sometimes the last thing we want to do.  We’ll gladly go to a stadium and wear jerseys of our favorite players.  Some crazies do really wear cheese on their heads.  But going to church or inviting to church with the same enthusiasm rarely happens.  We’ll listen to talk radio, watch videos on ESPN, and even just talk to the guy next to us on the airplane about the Florida Gators.  But talking about our faith?  That is just uncomfortable and awkward!

Jesus tells us this morning, You are the salt of the earth.” It is our privilege as Christians to give flavor to this world.  We season it with our Christian words and actions.  We give this world taste as we share the delicious news about Jesus.  Jesus continued though, But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” If we aren’t seasoning the world with our Christians lives—our words, actions, and sharing of faith—then what are we doing?  Salt that isn’t salty is useless.

Jesus isn’t done.  He also says, You are the light of the world.  A city 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.” An important city up high on a hill can’t be hidden.  Neither can we Christians be hidden.  People know who we are.  But this doesn’t mean that we cover it up.  After all, who would light a candle and put a box over it?  Who would light a floor lamp and then stick it in the closet?  Lights are supposed to shine and give light!  So are we.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Jesus did not give us options here.  “Do this if you feel like it.”  “Do this when you have some free time.”  “Do this every now and then.”  Nor did Jesus state it in the past tense—“You used to be”—or even in the future tense—“You will become.”  Jesus stated facts in the present tense:  You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world.” So the only question is, why haven’t we been so salty and bright?”

Even Christians, who are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, need to be reminded how we became salt and light in the first place. Left to ourselves, we aren’t very salty or bright.  Actually, we are far from tasty or savory.  We are nothing close to bright.  We aren’t even faintly lit or dim.  Each one of us is tasteless and bland.  We are filled with darkness and gloom.

Often we don’t realize just how much we fall short of what God expects of us.  Listen carefully to Jesus in verse 19 this morning, Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” One of the least of these commandments!  How many times do you think you have broken one of God’s commands even in the least bit?  Even just the slightest inappropriate thought?  That one burst of anger?  That bad word you couldn’t keep in?  That rumor you just had to spread?  We do those things all the time!  And those are just the little things!  But Jesus said that if you sin at all, then you will be called least in the kingdom of heaven!

In the same way, Jesus says in verse 20, For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” The Pharisees were the strictest of the strict.  They added hundreds of their own laws to God’s laws.  They even counted how many steps they took on the Sabbath Day.  (The irony is that they couldn’t keep their own laws either.)  But unless we can out perform the most zealous of all people, “You will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The point is, God demands absolute perfection.  Trying hard isn’t good enough.  Being mostly good isn’t good enough.  God wants us to obey him and be like him.  God does not want to see sin.  But that is a huge problem, because our lives are filled with sinful darkness.

How sweetly the children sang just a few minutes ago!  It was a beautiful addition to our worship!  But even more sweet and beautiful was the message they sang:  Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world . . . Jesus died for all the children, all the children of the world.

The sweetest news that we could ever hear or that we could ever sing is that Jesus loves all of us.  Jesus died for all of us.  That’s why he came.  He came to be the Light of the world.  He came to shine amid the darkness of sin with the brightness of his perfection and the radiance of his love.

Jesus said that we cannot break one of the least of God’s commandments.  He says that we need to be even more righteous than Pharisees if we want to be in heaven.  Well he did just that.  His divine perfection shines on our sinful lives.  And he made himself to be the least in the kingdom of heaven as he carried the burden of all sins and guilt and suffered the dark depths of hell.  All this he did for us and in our place out of love.

This love of Christ has completely transformed and changed us.  It has changed us from bland and disgusting sinners to seasoned and delicious salt of the earth.  It has changed us from gloomy and dingy darkness to bright and radiant lights in the world.  It has changed us from being sinners doomed to hell to saints bound for heaven.

What amazing news!  What great news!  What exciting news!  I am a shameful sinner yet Jesus has loved me and died for me.  My wrongs are too many to count yet they all have been forgiven.  I should be in the depths of hell yet I will be in the riches of heaven.  What awesome news!  What fantastic news!  What joyous news!

Am I gonna hide it under a bushel then?  No!  I’m Gonna Let it Shine! Am I gonna let someone blow it out?  No!  I’m Gonna Let it Shine! I need to tell someone!  I need to speak it!  I need to sing it!  I need to shout it!  I need to tweet it!  I need to post it on Facebook!  I need to blog about it!  I need to write E-mails about it!  I need to tell my neighbor!  I need to tell my family!  I need to tell the person behind me in the checkout line and the person checking me out!  I’m Gonna Let it Shine!

But, “Wait,” you say, “I don’t know what to say or what to do!”  Not to worry dear friends!  We have an evangelism Bible study starting today right here at church!  Over the next four weeks we’ll take a look at ways that you can let it shine.  We’ll discuss easy and simple ways you can invite others to church.  You’ll get hints, tips, and tricks for things to say when sharing your faith.  We’ll look at easy, simple, and pain-free ways you can get involved here at church to make sure Christ the King tells all the families of this school and all the people of this community that Jesus is the Light of the world and our Savior from sin!

I can’t wait!  Can you?  I can’t wait for Bible study today!  I can’t wait to walk out those doors and start a new week!  I can’t wait for more opportunities, more people to talk to, more people to invite to church, more troubled hearts to comforted with Jesus, more burdened souls to be set free!

What great news we have to share!  So let’s get started!  I’m Gonna Let it Shine! And so will you!

AMEN

To view a copy of this sermon to print or to share, click here.

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Posted on February 13, 2011, in Church, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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