As a believer, God has made you into a lamp for a reason! Learn 3 principles of being a lamp for Christ!
As we say often here, every culture on the planet brings their own cultural bias to the Christian faith
And 2 of the biggest cultural challenges that impact how we as Americans in the 21st Century approach our Christian walks are
1) That we live in the information age…and
2) That our culture has made us into consumers
For example, as products of the “information age,” we, often without recognizing it, come to the Bible, or to church, wanting purely information…
…so we can add to our trophy wall of knowledge…so we can impress people w/ our repository of information.
And secondly, also often without recognizing it, we come to consume.
We want to discover some truth that will directly benefit us and make our lives better!
And yet, the Bible very clearly teaches, that’s not the way we are to approach God’s WORD…
In fact, if you came here every week, added to your knowledge of God, and improved some bit about yourself, you’d be in fact, missing one of your most basic tasks as a believer
And Jesus is going to talk about that in the Book of Luke today
If you were here 2 weeks ago, we were last in the Parable of the Sower.
Which was a story about how we must carefully cultivate our spiritual hearts…to make sure we HEAR the Word of God well and let it sink in.
And Jesus is going to add to that thought today by saying not only does your life depend on what you do with the Word of God, but the lives of the people around you ALSO depend on what you do when you hear the Word of God
And if you just come to church as a consumer of information…you’re totally missing what God wants to do with you when the Word gets in you.
Just 3 verses today, but they are tricky, and there is a lot to unpack!
(Luke 8:16-18) – NIV
16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”
Jesus uses a number of metaphors in the Bible to explain our relationship to Him and our purpose.
And the main one he uses today is a lamp.
Now, when the Bible says lamp, don’t picture this:
(Modern-Day Lamp Picture)
Instead, a lamp in those days was an oil lamp, and looked more like this:
(Oil Lamp Picture)
It looked closer to the lamp you might remember from Aladdin.
Which, if you didn’t know Disney is coming back out with this year…because they apparently fired all of their people who had original ideas
So Jesus is saying that you are a lamp, and if His Spirit, His Word is in you…He has lit you up!
But for what purpose??!
SHOWING OUR LIGHT TO OTHERS
I believe Jesus gives us 3 principles of being a lamp
Let’s start with the first.
3 Principles of Being a Lamp
1. We’re meant to be seen
If you’re a believer in Jesus, you ARE a lamp.
Look at verse 16 again:
(Luke 8:16) – NIV (Keep up until next verse)
16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.
What’s the purpose of you being a lamp? (look at the text!)
You being a lamp allows others who come into your life to see…to see Christ!
In the Book of Matthew, after saying basically the same thing as our verse 16, Jesus says this:
(Matthew 5:16 – NIV)
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
But this isn’t really our natural instinct.
Most of the time we’d rather just keep the lamp under our bed than invite someone else into our home to see it.
And it’s definitely easier to keep it under your bed than to wander out into the dark of night…shining bright for all to see.
And yet, God has very specifically said today that He has put a light in each and every believer so YOU (yes YOU) could impact people for His kingdom.
This would needs us.
And I will tell you, it’s only going to descend even quicker into darkness if all the Christians, because they’re afraid of the dark, stay in their homes and keep their lamps under their beds.
Last Sunday night, I got a rare opportunity to attend a Vikings game…as Lindsey and I were generously given tickets
As amazing as it was to watch Aaron Rodgers and the Packers lose in person, my heart was more focused on the pain of what was around me
I try and interact with people who don’t know Christ, but it’s been a while since I was SO surrounded by SO many of them at once…which I suppose shouldn’t be the case either.
From the screaming obscenities…to the drunk guy down the row…to the two guys in front of us who reeked of weed…to the guy to my left who was so high…he was fading in and out by the end of the game.
And don’t misinterpret me…I was kind of energized about the situation… I LOVE lost people, so I wasn’t mad…or judgmental…or even bothered by it…
but as I looked around at the SEA of people, most of whom didn’t know Jesus…
I was reminded of perhaps the most fascinating dream I’ve ever had.
Now, Christians don’t talk about dreams from God a whole lot, but God used dreams all the time in the Bible (from Joseph, to Daniel, to Jesus’ earthly father Joseph)
Now, I can’t say with authority that this dream was from God, but it sure seemed like it.
It was back in 2008, at a time when I was beginning to pray about starting a church…
In my dream, I was in the Metrodome to watch a Vikings game.
But I was way up in upper deck…Maybe 15 rows from the top.
And during the game, water had filled most of the stadium from the field up…
In fact, so much so, that the water had risen up to almost my row…way up in upper deck.
And the water was full of people (from the rows below) who were drowning…and they were flailing their arms and screaming.
And YET, all of the people in the remaining rows were just sitting there …smiling…content w/ their situation
As I looked around, many of smiling people were people I actually knew…and it came to me, that they were all Christians.
And worse yet, I looked again, and I saw vendors walking up and down the stairs…selling cotton candy and popcorn to the Christians in the stands.
And as I looked harder…the vendors…were all pastors.
And right as I came to that realization, my alarm woke me up
I can still picture that dream like it was yesterday…even though it was 10 years ago.
Because it’s truth.
People all around us are groping around in the darkness…or drowning in sin…needing a way out…and they’re not just going to die, but also suffer in hell for eternity.
And yet, most Christians just hop from one church to the next, trying every podcast, every book, just hoping to be find the next great leader who can fill them up the best on popcorn or cotton candy.
And we’re not even remotely broken up by the fact that there are thousands and thousands dying all around us!
Hundreds of people in our neighborhood alone are going to suffer in hell for eternity.
And it has not broken our hearts!
And one of the main reasons our hearts are not broken is because we’ve forgotten our Biblical purpose as a lamp.
God isn’t moving in your life just for you.
God has made you a lamp because the light in you was MEANT TO BE SEEN!
NOTHING SHOULD BE HIDDEN
Let’s move to the next verse now…because there is another principle of the lamp, and this comes from perhaps the most often misinterpreted verse of this passage
(Luke 8:17) – NIV (Keep up until next verse)
17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.
Sometimes people use this verse to say that your deepest, dark sins will one day be revealed…so you better reveal you’re a closet fan of the "Bachelorette” now
While, that may be true, that’s not really, contextually what this particular passage is about.
Here’s another way to say verse 17, in light of what we see in verses 16 & 18
What is now hidden from people who don’t know Jesus is meant to be brought out into the open.
Sometimes if you’re having a hard time understanding one of Jesus’ teachings, a good study Bible (or even a good Bible app) will show you cross references…which are the little letters that show you where else the same topic is talked about.
So if you cross reference this verse, you’ll see Jesus also said basically the same thing in Matthew, but he said a little more there, which can help us make more sense of our passage.
(Matthew 10:26-27) – NIV
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.
That’s helpful! And gives us our second principle of being a lamp:
3 Principles of Being a Lamp
1. We’re meant to be seen
2. We’re meant to bring our lamp out into the open
Now, that’s very similar to principle #1, but Jesus is saying it in a slightly different way…
And this is quite important for modern-day American Christians to understand
Because…we are often afraid to bring our light into the open (as Jesus says) because some people have a negative reaction to it.
It’s like, in my house, we always argue about lights.
I don’t like a lot of lights on…especially at night…I want them dim…as I get my eyes ready for bed.
If any of you have ever seen me work in the office, I basically work in the dark.
I HATE florescent light.
There’s only one time I like it…in the morning…right when I wake up…because I want to shock myself awake with the light.
But there are others in my family, who disagree. Maybe you’re like this?
In fact, one of my kids, when they wake up, and I turn on the light, they’ll say, “Ughh!! NOOO!! Shut it off! It’s horrible!”
And when you bring the light of God out into the world…
You start talking about your faith…
You pray in public.
You start helping people in the community, but you talk about God while you do it.
Some people…will react negatively to the light shining in their darkness (give sample) .
But you have to expect this!
And I know so many Christians who’ve tried talking about God, and someone reacted negatively to the light, and so they gave up.
But listen, some people are just going to do that when you turn on the light in the darkness.
But not everyone!
And our job is to not be afraid of one negative reaction…
Our job is to not be ASHAMED of Jesus…despite how the world may react.
The apostle Paul puts it this way for a reason:
(Romans 1:16) – NIV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Here is why Jesus is telling you not be ashamed of Him at your work, with your friends, in your neighborhood…even if some people react negatively to your light…
Because the light is the VERY thing that brings salvation!
Imagine 5 of your friends completely lost their way in a cave…and they’ve been down there for a long time…
They’re starving…their phones are dead…and they have no idea how to get out
But you, leading the rescue crew, find them, and they see your bright flashlight
And 1 or 2 of them, because their eyes have grown accustomed to the dark, say, “AGH! Shut that off! That’s awful!”
Are you going to keep your light off?
No! Because it’s the VERY THING that’s going to lead them out!
It’s going to save their life!
How’s this going for you?
Are you trusting that God lit you up as a lamp for a reason?
Author Howard Hendricks…some of you read his book when you took Mining God’s Word in Renovation U…once wrote that the greatest witness for Jesus Christ that he ever knew was an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) in Dallas.
Hendricks said the guy was on the board at his church for 12 years but had never led anyone to Christ…that is until some college kids trained him to share his faith at work…and he started doing it.
And he led an incredible amount of his co-workers, even patients to faith in Christ.
In fact, Hendricks wrote that he was once in India, and he was talking about this particular doctor as an illustration, and a local Indian man said, “Are you talking about Jack Cooper?”
And Hendricks said, “Yeah, I am. How do you know Jack Cooper?”
And the Indian man said, “I went to medical school in Dallas, and while I was there, I had to see Dr. Cooper about my eyes, and he led me to Christ!”
And today, that Indian doctor is the only licensed neurosurgeon in that part of India…and he’s led an undeliverable amount of people to Christ…in India!”
Right, but many of you hear that and you think, “Nah, too hard to talk about my faith at work”
Whether it’s hard or not doesn’t answer the question of whether it’s worth it…or right.
Do you know that the only reason you know Jesus today is because the disciples talked about Jesus despite persecution and the threat of death?
We can’t be ashamed of letting people out of darkness.
I think of Lance Maki from our church.
Lance is the Chiropractor at Maki Chiropractic Clinic in Blaine…and he is not ashamed of Christ.
He uses his Clinic’s Facebook page for Christ.
Sure, most of what he posts is Chiropractic information for his patients, but he’ll also weave in some things about God…
Or share invites to Family Fun Day, or you name it.
He’s started playing Christian music in his office for his patients to hear
And if a patient mentions they’re having a really hard time, he will pray for them.
And I’m telling you…God is going to use his boldness!
How can you do something like that where you’re at?
THE BLESSING IS IN THE DARKNESS
And this is connected to the third principle
3 Principles of Being a Lamp
1. We’re meant to be seen
2. We’re meant to bring our lamp out into the open
3. The blessing is in the darkness
Look at verse 18:
(Luke 8:18) – NIV
18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”
What does that mean?
Jesus was speaking specifically to the Jews.
Many of which thought they were saved just from being racially Jewish…and so they weren’t really listening to what he was saying.
In verse 18, He’s saying this: “Those who truly dive into this…and live it out…will just get more blessing! But those who think they’re just fine…will have all they think they have…taken from them”
Life won’t work…they won’t be saved.
This is a major principle of Christianity.
It’s part of Jesus’ upside-down Kingdom.
At the very end of Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis describes the principle this way:
“The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day…and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in. – C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity”
And you can see this same concept with the lamp.
Our inclination (let’s be honest!) is to want to keep the lamp under our bed, stay inside, and warm-up under the covers.
That seems easiest.
But putting the lamp under your bed, is just a good way to burn your house down.
The path to blessing and life is not to cuddle up in your bed!
It’s to boldly, grab your lamp out from under your bad, walk out into the darkness (get out of your Christian Bubble)…and watch God actually do something in your life!
Do you believe that He can?
You want to grow in your faith?
You’ve got to step out in faith to grow in faith!
You’ll never grown in your faith hiding from the world under your bed!
God has put a light in each and every one of you believers.
And He wants to use you out in this world to make a difference.
But he can’t do that if you hide it.
He can’t do it if you’re ashamed…or afraid.
But if you believe He’s lit you up to shine for a reason…He will do amazing things.
If you stop engaging with God only to just consume for you…only to just to add to your information repository…
If you instead…hear the Word, so that you can shine…He’ll use you.
Walk in these doors, not to consume, but sit down in these chairs and say, “God, I’m coming to hear your Word, so I can learn to live it out (out there!)…just like you say”
That’s the vision of this church by the way…to be a people being changed by God TO change the world.
We are changed to change.
We are renovated, so we can renovate.
It doesn’t matter who you are.
I’m so encouraged and inspired by so many people in this church.
I think of Sherrie Berthiaume from our church, who has helped to start Elevate Hope House in the area.
Sherrie and a few of her friends have started a non-profit that will have a house for homeless single mothers (ages 18-22) and their children to go…and get support and training
In fact, they’ve just been given a house for free to start this ministry!
Is that being a lamp? You better believe it!
Or Lance Maki the Chiropractor.
All of those people…are people that most of you don’t even know.
They’re regular people at this church…just like you.
They’re not the type of people that are always up on stage…or leading a House Group…
They’re just regular people like you…who said, “God, you turned me into a lamp, SO…how do you want to use my light? Where do you want me to shine it?’
That’s a dangerous question by the way, that you oughta be asking all the time.
Can you imagine what God could do with you if you do? If you trust Him?
And it’s not about your strength anyway!
He’s doing this, not you! You’re just a vessel! Just a lamp!
Maybe He’ll use you to start something that’ll change the community.
Maybe you’ll start a conversation that’ll change a life for eternity.
Maybe you’ll impact a family with the love and support of Christ.
But the only thing you’ll do with your lamp under your bed is start a fire…
So ask Him this week, “God, how do you want me to take your lamp out into the darkness?”
And then start walking!
Let me pray
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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