Light up Together
by Elaine Pierce
I hope you have read Pastor Steve's Introduction to the Gospel of Matthew - it's right at the front of our Matthew Study Guide/Sermon Series Journal. This paragraph stopped me in my tracks:
First, we are learning life together. We sometimes hear Jesus' words as if they addressed each of us individually, when they are addressed to all of us together. In Matthew 5:14, for example, "You are the light of the world," is plural. It's a description of the community of disciples, not an individual person.
And one more thought from Pastor Steve:
We are primarily a community of people created and unified by Jesus, who will also carry those commitments and values into our individual spheres of life.
Of course we can be a light to the world when we are apart from the community of believers, but Jesus is focusing on our life together, and how that life is a light to the nations. We don't have to do this on our own, and in fact, it works better when we love, serve, and care for our neighbors together.
As I write this, twenty-four of our members are serving in Honduras and Ethiopia. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, many of our members are volunteering at our English as a Second Language classes, where hundreds of immigrants are hungry to learn English. UALC members volunteer at pregnancy decision centers. They pack hygiene bags for neighbors in need. Our members build beds for folks who have nowhere to sleep. And these are just a few examples of how we "let our light shine before men so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (v. 16)
Why is Christianity best practiced in the community? An early church Father, Tertullian, noted that Romans, non-believers, would observe the fast-growing community of Jesus' followers and exclaim, "See how they love one another!" All the glory and all the praise goes to the Lord, and what a privilege it is to welcome new believers into the kingdom.
This week, look for opportunities to serve together, and thank God for the privilege of being part of the body of Christ. Let your light shine!
Thank you, Lord, that you have given us a community of believers. Help us to work together, to bring glory to your name, and others into your kingdom. Amen.