What does it look like to be a light in your neighborhood? Well, I want to capture what I would like to say to you in a single provocative New Testament word. It’s in 2 Corinthians 5. Paul says, “We are, therefore, Christ’s ambassadors.” Think of that term. What is it that an ambassador does?
An ambassador represents. That’s all an ambassador does. He represents a leader, a king, who is not present with him. You could say that an ambassador’s work is incarnational. He’s putting flesh and blood to the person that he represents. Being an ambassador means this. ”I want to, in my neighborhood, represent the message, the methods and the character of the King of kings.”
Now, think about that. I think those three categories are really helpful. Message, methods and character. I won’t always have an opportunity to represent the message. It may not be appropriate for me to chase my neighbor down the street, grab him by the collar and stick the gospel in his face. That would probably be misunderstood.
In fact, think about this. If I had two people on the street, one knows that I love them because I’ve demonstrated that love; the other doesn’t know me at all and I have a very hard message to communicate to them. Which person do you think would be predisposed to hear the message? Well, it’s not hard to answer. The person who knows I love them.
The gospel is the hardest message ever because the only way you’ll get excited about the good news of the gospel is if you’ll accept the bad news of the gospel. And the bad news of the gospel is you are your biggest problem. Nobody likes to hear that. So maybe, rather than looking for ways to lead with the message, I look for opportunities to reflect the character of the King. I want to be known as a person of love, a person of grace, a person of patience, a person of self-sacrificing service.
Do you have an older widow in your community? Offer to mow her grass, rake her lawn, paint her dining room. Invite her over for dinner or family gatherings. You have a couple that works hard and never gets any time together, babysit their children. Do you have a park in your neighborhood that’s in disrepair? Organize a group of people in the neighborhood to just restore that park. You got a grill in your backyard? Grill for your neighbors. Have summer parties where you invite the whole neighborhood.
Reflect the presence, the love, the faithfulness, the tenderness, the compassion of the Lord. There’s always an opportunity to reflect His character and the more you reflect His character, the more you’ll have opportunities to speak His message. It’s never ever the case that I have no means of being a light. "Let your light so shine before men that they will see your [what?] good works and glorify your Father in heaven. [Matthew 5:16]
Don’t just represent your Lord in what you say. Represent Him in what you do and there are awesome opportunities to reflect His character in your neighborhood.