Input sound file: Audio 02 18 2018
I would like to begin by telling you a joke. It’s always good to have a warning when there’s a joke. Once upon a time, a little old lady came up behind another car at a stop sign. As the car sat there for a minute, a young person began to walk across the crosswalk, and the driver in front of the little old lady was very polite and just simply waited for that person to cross the street. Well, the little old lady started honking her horn, shouting in her car. She can help if she wants.
She likes the [inaudible].
Well, of course. I have to tell you, I’m incredibly proud. How old is [Chavelle?]?
She’s one. At this moment, the sermon is the most fascinating thing in her life. If we only could hang on to that. So anyhow, this little old lady is just filled with anger and rage at the driver in front of her, and she begins to curse him out the open windows of her car, and then she whips around him and gives him that finger thing that people sometimes do not in church. And all of a sudden, there’s a police officer behind her with the lights and she’s pulled over and handcuffed and taken to the police station. She’s at the police station, she comes out and talks to the desk sergeant and he says, “Ma’am, we’re just really sorry, but the arresting officer, when he saw you cursing and behaving so angrily and rudely, and when he saw the bumper sticker on the back of your car that said, ‘Follow me to church,’ and ‘Jesus loves you and so do I,’ and, ‘Are you saved? If not, why not?’, the officer just assumed on the basis of your behavior that the car had been stolen [laughter].” Sometimes that assumption is valid.
This is one of my favorite pictures. If I understand the background of this picture, it was taken in Minneapolis on Christmas morning. The windchill was 19 below and this man is handing a homeless person a hot cup of coffee. Now, I want to tell you it is a wonderful thing for somebody to be out in the cold on that day giving out a hot cup of coffee but what sort of impression would it make if the cup was empty or if the cup was full of something that didn’t taste good like black coffee without milk and sugar in it? It matters what’s in the cup, and it’s important that the cup not be empty when you extend it to someone else.
I attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and every now and then, women from the Baptist churches would come for a tour of the museum. There was a museum on the third floor on the left-hand side, and they had a real mummy with the wrappings off and everything, just there on display. And I was trained to be one of the museum guides and I would take them through the museum, and one of the things we would always talk about– there was a small box in a glass case. It was what was called an [inaudible] but when a person would pass away, they would be laid out on a shelf, just as Jesus was, and people would come and pay their respects. But after time, when all that was left was bones, they put all the bones in this little box, and then they put all of these boxes in a pit in the center of the grave so that the family would all be together. One of the things we were asked to tell everyone is that when archaeologists would excavate these sites, they would find an extraordinary reality. 90% of the people there would have died by violence. We like to think we live in dangerous times today. But compared to times in the Bible, our lives are not really in danger as theirs were. For you to be outside at night in the dark meant that there were people who were waiting to catch you without protection. And if you were outside at night alone and in the dark, it’s very possible that you would never come home again. The dark’s a little different today than it was in those days.
Shine means that something comes outside from inside. And if you live in the country, you know this, because if you go home in the dark, you can see across the fields for miles that there’s a house with the light on. In Bible times, you know what that meant, the light was on? The people weren’t afraid. If the light was on, the people didn’t mind that others knew that they were there, so that meant it was a safe place. If there was a light shining, it meant that that’s where you would find good people who would not hurt you. But shine means that something inside the house comes out through the window to be a beacon in the dark. Jesus, Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men.” There’s a lot of things that salt does. We do put it underfoot when it’s slick. It does preserve food, but I would be amazed if you would tell me there’s a reason you put salt on food other than that it tastes good. If you put salt on food, it’s harder to taste the bitter. It’s easier to taste the sweet. It makes all the flavors more visible and a part of your awareness. If the salt loses its taste. Then Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.” You can see the light against the clouds for miles. Definitely a future preacher. Then Jesus makes the point, “Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand. And it,” that light, “gives light to all in the home,” and shining out through the windows far beyond that. And then Jesus said lets this. “Let your light so shine so that it gives life. Let your light so shine before men so that they may see your good work. There’s something in the cup. And because of that, they will give glory to your father who is in heaven. “We are talking about the commands of Jesus. The orders that he gives, what he tells us to do. Let your light so shi8ne is the command. Now please note. Jesus didn’t say, “Be shiny.” Jesus said to shine. There’s a difference. Shiny means that light is reflecting off the surface of something. To shine means, the light is coming out from the inside. There’s a huge difference. A huge difference. There are people who spend a lot of effort getting the outside polished instead of getting what’s on the inside the way it should be. In fact, our culture is focused on shining. And it neglects what helps people to shine.
We’re talking about repenting. This is the season of Lent. We’re talking about repenting because, in this part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is trying to change the way people think because to repent means to rethink and to have a new perspective. Now it’s okay when you have that new perspective for you to feel bad for bad things that you have done. But the main focus is that you are thinking with new insight. You see with a different perspective. That’s what’s most important. Jesus is trying to change the way you think. He’s trying to change your mind. He’s trying to tell you that what’s important is that you shine instead of just being shiny. Several people have commented on this beautiful picture of the church window here at night. It’s been on Facebook for a while. But there is the Greek word up in the corner there that is the command. I would like to teach you a little Greek so that when you go home you can tell your neighbors, “Well at our church, we learned a foreign language.” So you ready? That’s the word in Greek. You know how to pronounce it? You ready? Lampo. Is that cool? Lampo. Please repeat after me, lampo, lampo, lampo. It’s so weird the English says, “Let your light so shine.” That’s just so pretty the way it twists it all around. What Jesus did is he looked out at everybody, he said, “Shine. Shine. Been too much darkness. Time for you to shine.” Lampo. To give light. To shine.
We all have light bulbs like this around the house. I used to bring one out wave it around like a Jedi sword and somebody said to me, “You know, that’s not really safe.” So now I just talk about lights like this. You know if you take a fluorescent light like this and you’re under one of those high tension power lines, and if you hold it up toward the power line in the dark, it’ll actually start to glow. Do you know why? If power goes through this lightbulb. The gas that is inside of the lightbulb literally gets excited and when it gets excited, it gives off light. Most of the people who are attending church on a Sunday morning are like a lightbulb like this. They’re good people. There’s not really much of anything that’s wrong with them but if they’re not shining, it’s because of one reason and one reason only. You don’t shine until you’re connected to the power. But when the power of God is inside of you, what’s inside of you will get excited and you will begin to give off light, you’ll begin to shine. You need to have the power.
So I want to ask you a question, how do you taste? It’s important to taste good. Why? So that people can see your good works and give glory to your father, who is in heaven. Things grow in the fields, the fruit of the spirit grows in our hearts. We talked about this a whole summer once. I guarantee you you taste good if you are filled with love, if you are filled with joy and peace, the opposite of anxiety. You will taste good to the spirits of people around you if you are a person of patience, and kindness, and generosity. If you are a person of faithfulness, and gentleness, and self-control, your light is going to shine out from you into the darkness around you. How do you taste? It makes a difference. Lent is for repent and Lent is about the need for us to change our mind and to change our lives. Now, while you’re coming, maybe you want to look at the food too. Let me tell you all a story. The first church I preached at was Wesley United Methodist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. It was literally in the slums in the bad part of town and in order to save money, they had drained all the water out and during the week, they would turn the thermostats down. They would only turn the thermostats on Sunday morning. And the church would begin to warm up from freezing cold and all the wasps in their nests would also begin to wake up because they would think it was spring. And they would begin to fly around the church, usually just about a half-a-dozen of them, but whenever anybody in the pews, there would be about 35 of them, whenever they would sit up and look at me really intently, I knew that one was flying around my head [laughter]. Chevelle is really helping everyone to pay attention today. Yes, you are. Don’t you just love her? So now that she’s over there, I’ll have to hurry on. The whole point of Lent is for Jesus to help us to repent because Jesus wants to change your mind. Because if you change your mind, and the way you think, and the way you see things, it will change your life. And so the command of Jesus, for you to begin to see things differently, is for you to shine, lamp [inaudible]. It’s time for you to light up. It’s time for God’s power to be inside of you and for you to turn the light on. Well, pastor Dave, how do we turn the light on? Well, prayer, read the Bible, overcome life’s troubles with the power of God. And in order to do that, you’ll need to understand the will of God. And I want to make you an offer that I hope you can’t refuse. If you need help turning the light on during this season of Lent, I would like to offer to become your partner. I would like for those who would like to volunteer, I would like to have a conversation with you each week about what you’re praying for, what you’ve read in the Bible, what questions you might have, how God can help you overcome life’s troubles, how you can un the will of God. But I don’t want to intrude into your life uninvited. If you would like to be my partner during this six weeks of Lent, to turn the light on and let it shine so that lives can change, I’d like to ask you to tell me by email, or text me, or face-to-face, “Pastor, let’s turn the light on,” and then you and I can begin to
The photo …
This post is based on the sermon “___” from the sermon series “___”
*date*, at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_2018.html
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.