Our church has started a weekday reading plan. It’s available here, bible.today.church. One of the goals is to focus on the words and commands of Jesus. Each day there is a Jesus Said soundbite with the verses of what He commanded. Yesterday’s soundbite was “Be A Light” from Matthew 5:16 It’s still biting at me today…
In the context from Matthew, Jesus had just taught what we call the beatitudes – the “blessed are…” The last two are similar topics.
Matthew 5:10-12 (NET)
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.
From there, Jesus talks about us, as His disciples, being salt and light to the world, and wraps it up with this command.
Matthew 5:16 (NET)
In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.
Isn’t it interesting that the context of our light shining is persecution, insults, false accusations? And what does Jesus say our response should be?
Rejoice, and be glad.
How we respond when wronged determines how our light shines before people. And that light is not so little, no matter what that song says. People see our reactions, words and actions. And in this world of social media, that light shines every day to hundreds or thousands we hardly know – with every post, comment, like, share or emoji. What do they see? Do our deeds give honor to the father?
What happens when we are insulted? What happens when we feel like our rights are being taken away? What happens when we are confronted with false information about us? I’m writing this on Independence Day in America during the pandemic of 2020. It’s a weird time to say the least. Conflicting information is everywhere and voices are rising that our rights are being taken away and that this is part of a larger conspiracy to silence the church.
Let’s just go with the assumption that this is an evil plot to silence believers through social distancing. That somehow, all of this is designed to keep us from proclaiming Jesus. As citizens of a higher Kingdom, what should our response be? In Acts 5 we read where disciples were jailed, put on trial, beaten and told to stop proclaiming the name of Jesus.
What would our response be if this happened today? Can you imagine the outrage? Can you imagine the social media storm?
What was their response in Acts 5?
Acts 5:41-42 (NET)
41 So they left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
42 And every day both in the temple courts and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus was the Christ.
That’s sounds a whole lot like what Jesus said to do when persecuted and done wrong. Rejoice and be glad. Let your light shine. Don’t stop proclaiming the good news that Jesus is what the world needs!
Yet, as I watch the response to present difficulties, there are other lights shining bright. Lights that don’t give honor to our Father in heaven. Lights that are pointing out how right our opinions are and how wrong everyone else is. Lights that point out that if we let this happen, just wait to see how slippery this slope gets. It’s quite a fireworks show.
While we post and complain about how oppressed we are, each day around the world about ten people are killed simply because they chose to follow Jesus. That’s what persecution really looks like.
Where is the rejoicing, and just proclaiming Jesus? It’s mostly in the Bible, not in my social media feed.
But now they said we can’t even sing!!! True. Rick Whitter is someone I consider a spiritual mentor. He posted a challenging response to that very issue.
Apparently, California has banned singing in church. What to do?
In Daniel 6, when prayer was outlawed, Daniel just prayed like he always had done. He didn’t argue, protest or complain. No big announcements. He just prayed as he anyways had done.
God took care of the rest.
— Rick Whitter
I’m not saying we should believe everything that’s being said. I’m not saying we should bow to every ordinance of man. But Jesus said, when we are persecuted, insulted, lied about — keep letting the light shine that gives God honor.
If they say we can’t HAVE church this way or that way, we rejoice and keep BEING the Church however we can! If they say we will die for proclaiming Jesus, we rejoice and…
Yes. If Jesus is worth dying for, then He is worth letting our light shine all the time.
Who’s ready to rejoice and be happy about just proclaiming Jesus – no matter what?
That’s a fireworks show the world needs to see!