The Prism of Your Soul: Let Your Light Shine
February 6, 2011
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Matthew 5: 14-16
14 You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hid.
15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
I invite you to take a look, my friends, at the Gospel from St. Matthew which we just heard so beautifully read to us. These are the words of our Lord Jesus: and what is he doing today? He is giving His followers their spiritual identification.
Jesus is telling his followers who they are. This is amazing. He's not just expounding the rules, he is saying who his followers are. He says two things in particular: you are the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world. How thrilling that must have been for the people who first heard that from the Lord. He's giving them spiritual identity He's telling them who they are in the eyes of God.
The Old Way
Up until then they'd been living in a religious style that emphasized laws- many, many laws about how to get close to God. Their lives were stressful because there were so many laws to follow, so many minute, intricate laws. One example is Deuteronomy 14:8. Thou shalt not touch the skin of the dead pig for it is an abomination unto the Lord. Think of the implications of that for the Super Bowl. (Much laughter from the Congregation) Many, many laws were emphasized before Jesus came along. He said to them, “You are more important, your spirit can shine like a light. You are the light of the world.”
The Salt of the Earth? What's That About?
Let's think together for a moment about the passage “the salt of the earth." Jesus talks about "salt losing its saltiness." How can salt lose its saltiness? Salt is not an herb that can lose its essence. Salt is a mineral, it doesn't lose its saltiness, does it? So what was Jesus talking about? Here is the key.
When we go to the store and buy Morton salt to put on food, it's very pure. We use the whole product. But, in Jesus's day, they mined salt out of the earth and it had a lot of impurities in it. It had gravel and other impurities so that people had to chip away at it to get to the salt crystals. So the impurities were the part of the salt that had no saltiness. People in those days would put this leftover gravel at the threshold of their homes in order to make the walkway a little more solid. Jesus said that to be like the essence of the salt, be interesting, make life interesting as one of His followers. People of Christ are not dull! People of Christ make life exciting. People of Christ enjoy Him, and make life enjoyable for others. You are the salt of the earth!
You are the Light of the World!
Jesus said, you are the light of the world. Can you imagine that? Think of the ragtag group that Jesus was speaking to. He was speaking to scruffy fisherman and farmers. He was speaking to housewives and tax collectors, poor people.
These ragtag downtrodden folks were hearing the words “you are the light of the world” from Jesus Christ. And if this is so for that ragtag group - how about for you and me? Can't we hear it too? I invite you to close your eyes for a second and hear the beautiful sound of your own name. Then follow it with the words "you are the light of the world!" Picture Jesus saying this to you. Can you embrace it? It is the word of Jesus Christ to those who would follow Him. You are the light of the world! Light - so important to each and every one of us. We depend on light.
The World Needs Light
I don't know about you but this week I got an email from the township of Montgomery. It was a very diligent email and an important email. It was also one of the most desperate emails that I've ever gotten from the township of Montgomery.
It said something like: To all ye people of Montgomery (Pastor intones with great foreboding) there comes this way a storm of great proportion. There will be ice on the earth and ice upon the trees above. There will be ice upon the wires and ice everywhere one looks. And there will be signs in the stars and the moon, (Pastor and Congregation laugh), no it didn't go that far. But it was pretty ominous, wasn't it?
I got thinking about how much we depend on light. I keep a little flash light by my bed. Light goes out pretty often in the neighborhood where I live. My neighbors and I joke that we are all connected together via a big orange extension cord that's plugged into the gas station down in Millstone. When people trip over it, we lose power. (laughter) Luckily, we didn't have a problem this time. Light. It's so important. Have you been in your house when the lights went out? When it's really dark and you can't find anything? We need that flashlight, we need that glow in the dark. And friend, Jesus said you are the light of the world. He needs you to shine with His light. He needs you to give brightness. To give hope. To give direction. To share faith. To share His love.
The Source of Your Light
What is that light? What is the light within you? It is Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus within you is the light of the world. The spirit of Jesus and within the followers of Jesus in that first century was the light of the world. It shown forth and we're here today because of that light. The good news is you've got it too. If you had an encounter with the risen Christ, if you said yes to Jesus and if you've invited him into your heart, you are a carrier of that light in the world. You are the light of the world - and the source of your light is Jesus.
Visions of Light
My dear friends, I preached this sermon last night and the illustration I gave at this point was about the pictures we've been seeing from Cairo, Egypt. Did you see them? Have you seen the pictures of the people rioting in the streets and hitting each other and arguing and screaming and throwing rocks? It's darkness. Intelligent people hurting each other. It's darkness. But as of early this morning, there was a bulletin on CNN's news. http://phantis.com/news/muslims-protect-christians-they-hold-mass-cairo I was shocked and thrilled to read it.
Christians planned a Mass in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Sunday afternoon, anti-government protesters in the square said. There's more. Are you ready for this?
Muslim protesters said they would form a ring around the Christians to protect them during the service. The Mass will pay tribute to those killed during clashes.
The Muslims! Muslim protesters said they would form a ring around the Christians to protect them during the service. I think that deserves some applause, don't you? Praise God! Praise God! Thank your Muslim friends won't you?
Not Just Any Light - Your Light
The world needs your God-given light, my friends. And there's something unique about your light, you know? Jesus did not say, let the light shine, or a light shine, He said let your light shine. “Your” is the key word because there's something unique about you. The light is the light. It is Christ. But is it shines through the prism of your personality, it is unique. There is no one who has the circle of influence that you do. There is no one that smiles the way you do. There is no one that can do good things the way you do and that is the light of Christ reflected through you.
Think of some of the things that make you unique, some of the expressions that are uniquely yours. Think of the people that you come in contact with and think of your talents. Do you sing and make music? Do you have a special way with people? Are you a leader of youths? Do you have a special way with children? Do you have a special way with artistic things or perhaps financial things? Do you have the gift of generosity or hospitality or teaching?
You see, you are unique - and the light of Christ is going to shine this week through the prism of your personality. And so, I encourage you as you go forth into the week. Let your light shine. Let your light shine, for you are the light of the world.
God loves you, I do too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2011 Anthony J. Godlefski