This devotional is adapted from my new series, "The Gospel In Your Neighborhood" - available exclusively to those who sign up for Paul Tripp Plus.
The Bible is filled with unsettling commands and ruffling statements. In other words, many of the directives in Scripture are meant to disturb our claustrophobic, self-absorbed kingdoms and make us move towards Christ and his bigger Kingdom.
For me, one of the most unsettling statements Christ makes comes during his Sermon on the Mount. He says to those listening, and to us reading years later, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14)
Why is this statement so ruffling for me? Because in another passage, Jesus declares, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
The logic here should make us feel uncomfortable: Jesus is placing his name (the Light of the World) on you and me. It's God's divine plan to make the light of his Son visible to others by sending us into a dark and lost world and living as light.
Matthew 5:14 is not a commission for pastors or full-time missionaries. Rather, this command is for everyone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus. We have been called to be lights in the world, pointing to the Light of the World.
But here's the problem: many Christians live trapped inside a Christian ghetto.
If you were to look at an average week, how much of your time is consumed by the scheduled activities of the local church? How many hours do you spend participating in worship services, small groups, men's and women's ministries, youth ministries, children's ministries, etc?
What about your friends? Outside of these scheduled ministries, how many hours do you spend with other Christians in social settings? Is it natural for you to gravitate towards a believer over a non-believer?
Let me pause - the goal of this piece is not to discourage you from participating in ministries, nor to discourage you from spending time with fellow believers. Not at all! But, I want to encourage you to be unsettled and ruffled by the teachings of Jesus.
For many of us, we haven't actually taken Matthew 5:14 seriously. We haven't created for ourselves a lifestyle where we have natural opportunities to be a light in a dark place. We're simply trapped in the Christian ghetto.
I will speak more on this topic in the coming weeks, but I want to leave you with my paraphrase of Matthew 5:14 - "You are the light of your neighborhood. You are the light of your office. You are the light of your school. You are the light of your gym. You are the light of your little league."
Are you making an effort to shine? When you step out of the safe confines of your Christian ghetto, Jesus will meet you and give you everything you need to be a bright light!
- What percentage of your weekly time is spent within the confines of the Christian ghetto?
- Without neglecting the importance of the body of Christ, how can you make changes to your schedule and be more visible as a light. Come up with 2 or 3 practical ways to implement this week.