“You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead he puts it on the lamp-stand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (The Good News Translation)
We’re far too familiar with these words, Lord. Wake us up to Your LIVING WORD today! Make Your words leap off of the screen and into our hearts as we read them again…
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)
I heard a seminary professor say, in a recent meeting, that WORSHIP should be REHEARSAL for Christians, so that they are prepared to perform their faith when they leave the building on Sunday mornings.
Yet, in many of our churches, worship is actually a performance.
Think about it. Even if it makes you squirm, you have to admit that there are elements of performance in much of how we have allowed our worship services to be shaped.
Rows and rows of benches or chairs, all facing the front of the room.
Elevated platform in the front, where the speaker(s) stand to address the listeners.
Microphones are given to those who are prepared to speak and sing.
We pick up an outline of the service when we enter, which is given to us by an usher.
Should I go on? Because it seems to me that the only ones rehearsing anything in many Christian churches on most Sunday mornings are the pastor and the praise team, and maybe the lay reader and the acolyte. The rest of us… well, what do the rest of us do?
‘Dark’ is a theater term which means that a show does not have a performance that day. You might say that most churches are ‘dark’ Mondays, meaning that the planned, organized, communal gatherings of Sunday morning are over for the week. If someone walks into your church looking forward to worship on a Monday morning, in all likelihood they are out of luck. The lights in the office may be on, but the sanctuary, as they say in show biz, is ‘dark.’
Now, this is actually okay if we subscribe to the idea that worship is our rehearsal time – that the main event for those who follow Jesus begins when we exit the building. After all, for church buildings to be dark on days other than Sunday ought to mean that the real action is out there – at my workplace, in your home, on our streets, in our neighborhoods.
Isn’t this what Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:14-16? Doesn’t He tell us that each one of us is here for the purpose of bringing the Light into the world?
If church is our staging area, then it should be dark Mondays! And Tuesday – Saturday, for that matter.
What we don’t get from Jesus in this text is an invitation to go dark in our real-time faith walk. In fact, quite the opposite is said…
We are light-bearers!
We’ve been put on a lamp stand!
We’re like a city, up high on a hill, shining its light warmly in the night!
Light for the whole house – the whole world!
Jesus is telling us that our life of worship – everything we say and do in front of others – should look and sound like the old Motel 6 commercial: We’ll leave the light on for you!
Newsflash, my friends: church itself is not the light. We are.
Resist the urge to do what many who attend worship on Sunday will do again, today, when the light of their witness in this world gets shoved under a bucket so that their own show can go on. Fight the temptation to go dark Monday.
Instead, be brave and watch the Light in you illuminate every room you enter, every car you travel in, every conversation in which you engage.
I think Jesus will enjoy watching us take His words literally today.
I think He loves to watch us SHINE!