As part of the Sermon On The Mount Jesus shared these words that give us an important insight into pursuing the mission Christ has given us. He said,
"You are the light of 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. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16
It's not hard to understand the point that Jesus is making from this imagery. The primary purpose of light is to illuminate an area and thereby dispel the darkness so that people are able to clearly see. At the very heart of our mission is for us to be those luminaries by which people can see clearly. Our lives are to be such a powerful force of light that people are able to clearly see Jesus and understand the gospel of Christ. It is God's responsibility, through the Holy Spirit, to convict people of their sin and draw people to Christ but it is the job of Christ's followers to the light that illuminates in the spiritual darkness.
But if the pollsters are correct the Christian luminaries of North America are doing a pretty horrible job. All reports indicate that the Christian faith is in decline and that the fastest growing religious group is those people who claim "NO RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION" at all. That group has more than doubled between surveys and is the third largest group overall. If present trends continue this group could easily become the largest Religious Identification Group of all throughout North America. Why? What has happened to the North American Church that has caused its light to not shine as brightly as it once did? These are the questions that haunt my mind and soul and for which I deliberately seek the scripture for answers.
I think the Apostle Peter might have an answer for us to this question. As I was reading 1 Peter 2:11,12 it became obviously clear to me that he was thinking of Jesus' words during the Sermon on the Mount about us being the light of the world. At one point Peter almost quotes Jesus. Read what it says,
"Dear Friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us."
There it is, "see our good deeds and glorify God..." That's almost exactly what Jesus said about being the light of the world! Our desire and ambition should be to live good lives and perform good deeds so that we bring honor and glory to God. But it's the first part of the verse that I feel is the key to making sure our light doesn't dim or flicker out! Peter pleads with and urges Christ's followers to abstain from the sinful desires of the world. Peter is warning Christians that failure to stay pure and live holy lives will result in lost people not seeing our good deeds (our light) and,thereby, not be able to glorify God. I truly believe that there is a direct correlation between Christians not living holy lives and lost people not seeing the light that can lead them to Jesus. Therefore, it doesn't surprise me when I hear that studies reveal that the morality of Christian's of North America is statistically no different from those in North America who don't claim to be Christians. We have done exactly what Peter begs Christians not to do. As followers of Christ we have failed to abstain and in some cases wholeheartedly embraced the sinful desires of the world.
If we are going to be serious about pursuing the mission that Christ has called us to, we have to be serious about living holy lives. While we are actively pursuing lost people, while we are hanging out with them, while we are going where they are, we must always remain pure and holy. Otherwise all will be for naught. What do we need to do in order to become effective and obedient in pursuing Christ's mission? We need to start with REPENTANCE! Listen to the words of God to his people:
"If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, seek after my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chron. 7:14
DON'T GET TIRED IN DOING GOOD! YOU WILL REAP A HARVEST, IF YOU DON'T GROW TIRED AND IF YOU DON'T GIVE UP. LET'S BE FULLY DEVOTED FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST. LET'S LIVE THE HOLY LIFE WE WERE CALLED TO!