Letting Our Light Shine

Our country’s kind of in the toilet right now, in case you haven’t noticed.

There’s the debt ceiling talks where Obama and Boehner just spend time blaming each other.

There’s three wars and at least three new shootings each week in Harrisburg (more in other cities).

There’s our growing carbon footprint and our continued dependence on nonrenewable energy sources.

There’s the fact that most Americans carry a negative net worth because of our entitlement mindset and materialism.

Clearly, this place is a mess, and we have some issues.

16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

What sorely disappoints me is the fact that the church still is not shining its light the way its supposed to.  Being honest; we are getting better.  We’re learning not to hide in stuffy little churches with hard wooden pews that put splinters in your butt while we listen to a sermon about hellfire and damnation; instead, we’re preaching how the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and we’re learning to show the love of God in new and innovative ways that shows people they can overcome through Jesus Christ. Church isn’t something we do on Sunday anymore; it’s every day of the week now.

I don’t think we’re doing enough, though.  Like I said, we’re getting there, but we cannot stagnate now.  I think we’re learning to do the hard parts of scriptures in easier ways, kind of like what we did before.  It’s like someone asked us to pump up the volume and we turned the knob from 2 to 3 (when it goes to 11). We’re becoming more charitable, sure, but that’s not enough.  This is the kind of thing I’ve been trying to teach you people for awhile now.

We’re not hitting people, but we’re supporting war.

We like to give people things, but we’re still in debt.

We’ll buy those green grocery bags at the store to “save the planet,” and go fill our SUV with gas.

We’re not getting it.  WE ARE NOT GETTING IT, DO YOU HEAR ME? Christianity, when it was still The Way, was NOT doing things ANYTHING LIKE ANYONE ELSE WAS DOING THEM (yes, I know you’re reading this like I’m shouting.  That’s the idea). We’re not letting our light shine in a way that it gives glory to God, but weak applause to ourselves.  I feel like, whenever Christians go do something, they say “Oh, that’s so nice that they did that.” Let me tell you what the early church did, and what people said about it.

45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

They would hold everything in common.  They sold their possessions and distributed accordingly.  They gathered together EVERY DAY and shared meals together (not just after church on Sunday). They openly committed acts of civil disobedience when they preached Jesus in the synagogue and said things like “Jesus is Lord” in direct opposition to everyone else who said “Caesar is Lord.” They looked more like a crazy sectarian offshoot of Judaism which refused to stop growing than just some nice charitable organization.

Do you know what people said about them? They accused them of cannibalism (for eating the body and blood of Christ), incest (for calling each other brother and sister), atheism (for refusing to offer tribute to Caesar), and delusional (for believing that Jesus had risen from the dead).

Being a Christian in the truest sense of the word looks so insane to people that they’re going to oppose it, but those to whom you give the love of God to will have no choice but to look at what you’re doing and not see you doing it, but God.  The things God truly moves us to do look so strange to the world, so why does the church look exactly like our world circling the drain of oblivion?

What if, instead of worrying about who was going to be in office, we appointed Jesus as our president (thanks, Claiborne) and worked more to show the world a better way to live?

What if we did crazy things like hold a year of Jubilee, where debts were forgiven and repossessed property was returned to its owners as a measure of keeping the economy in balance?  What if the whole world saw us do it, and decided to do it too?

What if we got to the point where we were really sharing everything in community, be it our homes, our food, our stuff, so that no one amongst the believers in Jesus had any need at all?

What if all of that was our debt solution?

I think, if we presented this to Capitol Hill, we’d be laughed right out of the building.

I think, if we started practicing it and including others in it, people would notice.

Therefore, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and praise your Father in heaven.

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