Let your light shine.
JUNE 1, 2023
Let your light shine. Let’s talk about it, on this edition of Key Life.
The deepest message of Jesus and the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers. That’s what Key Life is all about. So, if you’re hungry for the hopeful truth that God isn’t mad at you, keep listening. Steve Brown is a professor and our teacher on he life.
Thank you Matthew. If you’ve been listening this week, we’ve been looking at the question of why people would follow Jesus when he promised persecution, death, and suffering. And we’re looking at the way Jesus promised our glory and prayed for it. And we’ve seen that that glory is standing in a battle, even on the losing side, that Jesus visit us when it is a hard place and a dark place. And I’ve said some other things, but let me show you one other thing that I mentioned yesterday about the glory of our lament. When we’re in the hard places and we cry out to God and use the words of the Psalms of Lament. Or maybe even other words found throughout Scripture, where God’s people cry out to the God of the Universe because it’s so dark and it’s so painful. Maybe you are there now. Maybe you’re going through a rough time. Maybe this isn’t a time to dance and sing joy, joy, joy down in my heart cause you don’t feel joy, joy, joy down in your heart. That’s a time for lament, and that’s the time when our glory shows. Jesus said.
That we were to let our light shine so that others might see it.
He said it in Matthew 5:16. The light of his glory and ours is a light for the world. And its power and authenticity is almost blinding. How do you explain the fact that Mother Teresa shined? Why was her witness to the world so incredible and so powerful? If you were to understand it, you need to read, Come Be my Light. That’s a book of Mother Teresa’s letters and publication of what she said when she was going through a hard time and it was published against her wishes and it reflects the dark places where she walked and the lament and the depression that she experienced. Unbelievers took delight in that posthumous book. See, they said, your hero has feet of clay. She wasn’t a hero at all. Christians, at least thoughtful Christians, however said, duh. We know that she shined not despite her pain, but because of it. Now, don’t understand anything that I’ve been teaching, I’m certainly not suggesting you throw yourself in the fire of suffering so you can lament. And from that lament experience the glory of the pain. He made you better and you have a great witness. If you’re familiar with church history, you are aware that during times when Christians were persecuted, a whole lot of Christians made great efforts to die for Christ and become martyrs. They thought that was cool, and there is still the smell of that sort of thing in the church. A number of years ago, a woman in the church I served told me she was suffering for Jesus because of her non-Christian husband. She didn’t know that he had come to me and he came to me to complain about her. Reverend, he said, I’m not a Christian and I’ll never be one because of my wife, and if you don’t call her off, it will never happen. I’m thinking about it, this stuff is beginning to make sense to me, but she, I can’t even go to the bathroom without finding a Christian track or Christian book sitting next to the toilet. I think I’ll scream if she says one more time that she is worried that I’m lost and going to hell. I’m thinking about becoming a Christian, but it’s not going to happen if she doesn’t back off. Well, she came to me and told me she was suffering for Jesus and I said, no. And she knew I loved her, so I could say it. Sometimes, you earn the right to speak the truth, and we’ve got to be careful about earning the right to speak the truth to those we love and to those who are in the world. And I said to her, no, I love you, but you are not suffering for Jesus. You are suffering because you’re a pain in the neck. She, as I said, knew I loved her and she realized that what I said was true. And as an aside, after we talked and had the come to Jesus moment, she confessed her actions to God and to her husband. And believe it or not, he became a Christian and later served as a Christian leader. Wanting to suffer for Jesus isn’t a spiritual gift, dear friend, that’s neurotic. However, life really is hard. Almost all of us have sometimes known the places where the response must be a lament. All I’m suggesting here is that sometimes the stuff of lament becomes the place of praise, not because God changes the circumstances, and don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of times when he does that, but because of what I just told you, it’s one of the reasons my friend, the late Larry Crabb said.
Run to the dark.
Now, we’re going to talk later and we’re not there yet in the last chapter of the book that I wrote. We’ll talk about the freedom that is the heritage of Christians who suffer. But before we bring to a close all of this material on why would anybody follow Jesus if he promised persecution? Do take note, as I mentioned earlier, that Jesus said that he would be glorified and that glorification was the cross that he faced. When he said that, Jesus said it just days before the resurrection, just as Jesus was glorified in the cross, he was also glorified when a dead man got out of a grave and walked around. His story is our story. And while we are glorified in our crosses, don’t forget that we are glorified in our resurrection too. One has to get to an empty tomb by way of the cross. Just don’t forget that the tomb is empty. As my friend Tony Campolo, with whom I disagree about everything but Jesus, but love deeply. And by the way, Tony’s going through a difficult time with some physical issues. And if you have a minute and God reminds you, do say a prayer for Tony. And Tony’s known for a lot of things, but he’s probably known best for a sermon that he preached. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming. That’s true. And in our lament because it’s Friday, in the tears and the darkness and the pain of loss. When bad things happen and bad things happen to Christians. When we go before God and we don’t have the answers we think we have, we can’t figure out what God has done and what he’s doing in our life. When the doctor’s particular prognosis is not a good prognosis. When our children aren’t walking the faith that we gave them. When we’ve gone through divorce. When it hurts and it hurts really bad. When we lament. When we have honest lamentation before the God of the Universe, who is sovereign over every bit of it. When we do that, something supernatural happens, the light begins to shine. The reality of the power and praise in the dark begin to make sense. Don’t forget the crucifixion, but for God’s sake, don’t forget the empty tomb either. Don’t forget the glory because it’s your glory and he has called you to shine. And so in a sense, as we’ve talked this past week or two about why follow somebody who hung on a cross? Take what I’ve taught you and apply it to your life, when the road is hard and you’re tired and you’re down and you don’t know what to say or what to do. Lament, cry out to God, be honest and wait for the resurrection. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. With that, we wrap up another great week of Bible teaching and remember if you want to listen again or share something with a friend, you can find all of our episodes at Keylife.org we will of course resume our ongoing tour of Steve’s book, Laughter and Lament soon. But first, well tomorrow, actually, it’s time again for Friday Q&A with Steve and our good friend Pete Alwinson. Always a good time. Do not miss it. So, if you’ve been part of Key Life for a while, you might know the name Jenni Young, she contributes just some wonderful articles to Key Life, one of which is featured in the new edition of Key Life Magazine. And if I tried to summarize it, I would not do it justice. Honestly, your best bet is to just order your free copy of the magazine today. And bonus, in the magazine, you’ll also find details on a popular new subscription service from Key Life called Key Life Book Box. So, let’s make this happen, huh? Call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for the magazine. If you’d like to mail your request, go to Keylife.org/contact for our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of Key Life Magazine. Finally, would you prayerfully consider partnering in the work of Key Life through your giving? You could charge a gift on your credit card. You could include a gift in your envelope. Or simply pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.