What a powerful sermon we heard on Sunday. One that is worth pondering and keeping close in our minds and hearts.
In order for Jesus to reach and rescue the world he had to penetrate it. Likewise, for us to impact and influence the world for Christ we must penetrate it. John Stott said, "We are to go as he went, to penetrate human society, to mix with unbelievers and fraternize with sinners. Does not one of the church's greatest failures lie here? We have disengaged too much. We have become a withdrawn community. We have become aloof instead of alongside."
On Sunday the church gathers, but on Monday through Saturday the church scatters. Into the marketplace followers of Jesus Christ live as God's ambassadors. They are his representatives, his messengers. They are on mission.
Jesus' strategy always involved believers going into the world, to penetrate the marketplace. Followers of Christ must recognize their ministry and mission of communicating God's love to people they come into contact each day.
1. The biblical mandate
It was this intentional mission strategy that Jesus had in mind when he said, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It's no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:13-16).
Here are three ideas illustrated in Jesus' imagery of light that have direct bearing on our experiences in the marketplace.
1. Radiate Christ's love
Jesus made it absolutely clear that he wants his followers to radiate his love to those around them. That's why he talked about light. We can't turn a light on and then tell it not to dispel darkness. The very nature of light is such that it must shatter the darkness around it. In the same way, true Christians should, by their very nature, radiate something of the work of God in their lives to the people around them. We are the light of the world; we must, therefore, radiate that light and dispel darkness.
2. Don't refuse to shine
Jesus anticipated that some believers might choose to limit their candlepower, to refuse to shine their lights. He anticipated this and forbade it. "Let your light shine!" he commanded. He did not, and he does not now leave believers the option of letting their worlds remain in undisturbed blackness.
3. Spread Christ's influence
Jesus made it obvious that he wants us to spread his influence to every corner of this dark, fallen world. It's not enough that we simply take our lights out of hiding. He wants us to put them on a lamp stand where everyone can see them! God wants the light of his love to be held high so it can permeate every bit of darkness. It is through the channels of our daily lives that God shines the light of his message of love.