Matthew 5:14-16 Let Your Light Shine

Matt 5:14-16

14″You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

NIV

Is God Real?

That’s a strange question for a preacher to ask, isn’t it? Yet, it’s a question that is asked by many, even those who profess to be Christians, especially during a time of trial and tribulation.

My sermon today is not an argument for the existence of God. My personal belief is that any God I have to defend is not god at all. My God is big enough to defend Himself. In fact, Scripture says that God has already given us enough of a revelation of Himself that God doesn’t need defending. Turn with me to Romans 1:18-25 and let’s read that together.

The Scripture writers never even entertain the question “Is God real?” The answer, a resounding YES!, is presumed from Genesis to Revelation. The Scriptures tell us that the fool – the person who bases his or her life on something other than reality – says in his heart “there is no god.” According to one theologian, that verse isn’t entertaining any argument about the existence of God. It is saying that the man or woman who bases their life on any reality other than that God is vitally interested and involved in their lives, is basing their life on something other than reality. I have to admit that I am foolish sometimes. I live my life at times as if God isn’t vitally interested or involved in my life. Isn’t that what we all do when we sin? We place ourselves out of relationship with God, who is not only interested and involved in our lives, but who cares deeply for us. How do you feel when someone you care deeply about acts as if you aren’t interested in them and involved in their lives? God cares for you and I more that anyone else we know cares for us and God hurts when we live our lives as if God isn’t interested or involved in our personal affairs.

I’m talking as if God is sitting right here right now with great interest in us and wanting to be involved with us in even our mundane, non-spiritual, irreligious affairs. Those of us who are people of faith can accept that fairly easily. But, there are many, and maybe even some here, who cannot so easily accept that. God knows us intimately and knows that we need a live demonstration sometimes. That’s why God came to us in a particular time in history to demonstrate His care, His interest and His involvement in our lives in the flesh, in the person of Jesus Christ.

But, some would say, Jesus Christ isn’t here with us right now, at least not in the flesh. Those of us who are people of faith would be opposed to such impertinence but might agree that Jesus Christ, the person, isn’t sitting here in our midst right now in the same way as the person sitting next to us is. And we would be wrong.

Turn to John 16:7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

Jesus said that when he left us bodily, he would not leave us alone but would send us His spirit to live in us. We don’t have Christ living among us in the flesh. But we do have His spirit living in us. Because God’s spirit lives in us, we are called the Body of Christ and it is through the Body of Christ that God chooses to care for this world through flesh and blood, incarnational, involvement.

When we read that we are the Body of Christ in Scripture, we usually think of some incorporeal, invisible entity – some ideal – that we’re part of. We often don’t grasp that, as the Church, we’re the flesh and blood, visible, real embodiment in, through and with which God’s Spirit moves to demonstrate God’s love and care for this world. Because we fail to grasp that reality, according to I Corinthians 11:30, the Body of Christ is weak, unhealthy and even threatened with death.

Although usually the optimist, sometimes I’m a cynical person. I reserve doubt when I’m told the Marine Corps has my best interests at heart, or the government really cares for me. I have grave doubts when a big corporation tells me that they care for me. How many of us believe the bank cares more about us than about profits? Or our HMO? We would view anyone who believes that such institutions really care as naïve, wouldn’t we? Is it any wonder that there are those who doubt that this institution we call the church really cares about them? Is it any wonder that there are many who doubt that God is really interested and involved in their lives and cares deeply about them? This is a basic human stumbling block for mankind. But if the Body of Christ would demonstrate God’s interest and involvement LESS through institutional programs and beautiful Church buildings with stained glass and magnificent architecture and MORE through becoming individually and personally interested and involved in the lives of the people in her community, That basic doubt would crumble.

Rom 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

NIV

He did it personally. Jesus didn’t send his disciples into the less agreeable parts of town to minister to the unlovely and the sinful while he reclined at the table with the attractive and the spiritual. No he went himself. He healed in person, He touches and mingled with the society, and he died for us. It was God’s demonstration of his love, and it was personal.

I’m not advocating that we tear down the institutional church. I think we need the institutional church to encourage and enable its members to become interested and involved in the lives of their neighbors. But, I don’t think that the 1 to 2 hours we spend here each Sunday is Christianity either. I once read about a little church that has a hand carved sign over the inside of its doors that says something like: The holiest time of our worship is the moment when the people of God, having been renewed and refreshed in their sharing together, go out into the world to be the Church.

Who here knows who Parmenas is/was? Anyone? Well, Parmenas is a man who appears in the Scriptures only once. Not only is he a one-hit-wonder, but when he does appear, he appears in a list, most of whom are also one-hit-wonders. In a lesson on studying everything we find in Scripture as if it is of utmost importance, I would like to focus on this seemingly unimportant individual. Turn to Acts. 6:5-6. That’s all we ever hear of Parmenas in the whole of Scripture. He was one of the first seven deacons. Tradition says he died a martyr’s death in Turkey, where he is still venerated.

Acts 6:5-6

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

Other than that, we know very little about him. But, maybe we know more about him than would be evident on the surface. You see, Parmenas is a Greek name. It means Steadfast or Strong. It’s derived from two words – para meaning beside and menides meaning abide. So a “Parmenas” is someone who shows them self steadfast in abiding beside another. Now, we don’t know whether Parmenas got his name because of his steadfastness in abiding in Christ, or because of his steadfastness in living alongside members of the community. But , I think both factors were involved in his being selected with those others to serve the church in a special way.

Our world doesn’t need another institution that says “We care.” Our world needs more Parmenas’s who will be steadfast in abiding beside an individual or a family and demonstrating God’s care for them with real flesh and blood ministry.

Matthew 5:16 tells us to let our lights shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify God. The Greek for good works means deeds which bring glory. When we let God’s Holy Spirit work in, through and with us to demonstrate His care for those around us, the question “Is God Real?” won’t be asked. Our God will be glorified as the God who is interested and involved in the lives of His children and who cares deeply for them.

• When I was first married. We didn’t have much. It seemed like every car we bought didn’t last long at all. There was a Pontiac Lemans, a Malibu classic, and a VW beetle within about a two year time frame. Each cost less than $1000 dollars and none of them was at all reliable. There was a time when all we had was a small motorcycle and at one point I was completely without transportation. Chuck Rogers lent me his Nissan Sentra. Chuck told me to just use it as long as I needed it. He wouldn’t accept any money, even for the insurance payment and he did it in such a way that I didn’t feel embarrassed or looked down upon. I had worked with Chuck Rogers in the Young Life program in our town as a Youth Counselor. I came to see Chuck as a dynamic, loving, genuine and Spirit Driven Christian. I didn’t doubt, but if I had, Chuck would have proved to me in flesh and blood ministry that God is real. In fact he did.
Abram was changed to Abraham and God was glorified.
Jacob was changed to Israel and God was glorified.
Simon was changed to Peter and God was glorified.
Saul was changed to Paul and God was glorified.
Parmenas means to live along side.

Will you be changed to a Parmenas so that God will be glorified?
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hid.” Matt 5:14

If we desire to glorify God, we need to live in That city on a hill. That is metaphorically, we must be out in the world, as a living Gospel witness in true love which overflows from the Holy Spirit and takes shape in our deeds and our words in the community we live in. When they see the light of our good deeds, They will praise our Father in heaven.

Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows, Acts 2:45-47

Preached on January 28th, 2001 at Memorial Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

 

Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows

Acts 2:45-47
46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Continue reading

Real Christianity

Preached on February 6th, 2011 at Edgewood Chapel

Salvador Dali's Last Supper

Chad B. Davis
Podcast of “Real Christianity” preached by Rev. Chad B. Davis at Edgewood Chapel on February 6th, 2011

    So it’s early evening, probably 6:30 or 7:00 O’clock. Dinner is winding down and the disciples are finishing up their meals. It’s so nice to be inside for once and to have a meal inside in a comfortable room. There are couches to recline on and the upper room is warm and dry. Everyone is at ease. But that is because they don’t realize Continue reading

I believe in Jesus. Is intellectual affirmation enough?


Jesus said,

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice …” Matt 7:21-24 NIV

Since the late Nineteenth Century too much has been made about praying a sinners prayer and being saved. Not enough has been said about being Jesus’ disciple. Jesus’ Gospel was simple, he said “Follow me.” (Mk 2:14), and “Repent, the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand.” (Matt 3:2) Both what Jesus Preaches, and what Paul teaches (Rom 10:9-10) are about the Lordship of Jesus.

It isn’t just about affirming the right doctrines, believing, confessing the right things. It is about doing God’s will and putting Jesus’ words into practice. Now I will write a theology from this; Tell me what you think.

To say that Jesus is Lord is one thing. That is orthodoxy, right belief and it is essential. But Jesus requires that we do what he says, put his words into practice. That is coming under the actual Lordship of Jesus. That is Orthopraxy, right actions. In other words, you don’t really believe it unless you live by it.

Intellectual ascent is not enough. Demons confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but so what? They do not submit to his Lordship and follow him in discipleship, putting his words into practice. I think the whole pericope Matthew 7:21-23 and following is a warning to people who only SAY the right things, but do not do them.

Thank you for reading and I am looking forward to your thoughts.

In Christ,
Chad

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