Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fan or Follower, What Do Others See?

"No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts [it] in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light. "The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when [your eye] is bad, your body also [is] full of darkness. "Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. "If then your whole body [is] full of light, having no part dark, [the] whole [body] will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light."
Luke 11:33-36 NKJV

I was fortunate enough to be raised by Christian parents and introduced to our Lord at a very early age. Some of my most favorite memories are of sitting in Sunday School singing songs and listening to the stories as we were taught about the Gospel of Christ, and Jesus' love for us. One of my memories is of how much we liked to sing certain songs, which was evident in the volume we sung them. One of those which I am sure many of you remember as well is called “This Little Light of Mine”. Complete with hand motions, we would sing that particular song as loud as five and six year old children possibly could.

I don't remember how old I was when I figured out that the message in this song was taken straight from scripture, but it is one lesson that I have never forgotten, and in light of what we have been discussing lately one which I feel is extremely important to all of us. Many of us remember the saying “WWJD, or what would Jesus do”? If I were to try and come up with something like that which the body could use to improve it's appearance in the world, I would suggest that we try “WDOS”, or “what do others see”?

One doesn't have to read and study scripture very long before coming to the knowledge of the importance God places on the actions of those who profess to believe. I know of, and have heard so many instances where people have found out after the fact that people around them were watching them closely to see if their actions in life lived up to their profession of faith. It happens all the time and yet there are many in the body who seem to be completely unaware of the fact that their light might be burning a little “dim”.

We have been looking the past few weeks at a passage of scripture which explains in great detail the downward progression of some in the body as we approach the end of this age, and I think it important now that we all take a good look at ourselves in light of scripture to see if we are reflecting the light of our salvation, or if in fact we might be reflecting something else entirely.

Something I am sure most of you have already noticed is that at times the Bible certainly could be described as a book of opposites. This is especially true when you contrast what the Bible calls the “works of the flesh” and the “fruits of the Spirit”.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told [you] in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

So the question for us is simple...what do others see when they look at us? Do they see a light shining in the darkness or a light hidden so well that we look just like the world around us? Many if asked would say that the world is getting darker. Society is changing and the relative morality of the world is spiraling downwards at an ever increasing pace. The struggle for us as believers is to insure that we continue to reflect the light that is in us even as persecution begins to be commonplace as we are attacked for our faith in God and adherence to His principles.

in all things showing yourself [to be] a pattern of good works; in doctrine [showing] integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.
Titus 2:7-8 NKJV

Since today is the Super Bowl it seems appropriate to use football as an illustration in some way so I will try to do that in light of what we are talking about. I'm sure most of us, either in football or something else, could at one time or another be described as a fan. Fans like a certain team and support them (sometimes exuberantly) as the season goes on. They may even wear their teams colors with hats or jerseys or even fly flags which show their support. But what happens when their team begins to lose? Have you seen pictures of stadiums which are only half full because fans either leave early or don't come at all? I think you could make the case that in difficult times, when the going gets rough, the only people who still show support are those who are committed followers of their team.

As believers, maybe that is a question we need to ask ourselves when times get difficult. Are we true followers of God who are committed to follow Him no matter what the cost or the circumstances in which we find ourselves? Or are we simply fair weather fans who are committed only when things are going well and we are happy with our circumstances?

Beloved, I beg [you] as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by [your] good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
1 Peter 2:11-12 NKJV

More and more we see those who choose to believe be attacked for their faith, but this passage makes it clear that even though others may choose to “speak against us”, the fact that we choose to stay strong and keep the faith will glorify God in the end. Others are watching us, especially as the circumstances around us get more difficult.  Yet it goes without saying that a light shines brighter the darker it gets.  Our responsibility is to make sure our light shines in such a way as for others to see.  My prayer is that we all will have the courage to look at ourselves honestly to see if we are indeed shining brightly to the world around us. Let your light so shine.

Keep watching.