Why Christians should stand out
How to be a light for God in this world of darkness.
There is no denying that we live in a challenging age.
We are living in an increasing world of scepticism. This is a difficult time for Christians, but a necessary one.
Jesus calls us to be a light in the world, and in this age of ever-growing darkness we can either choose to dim our lights and blend into the dark of the world, or we can choose to outshine the darkness with the help of Jesus and the Holy Spirit on our side.
So why should we choose to stand out when it's so hard?
Lights in a world of darkness
In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that we are the ‘light of the world.’ (Mat 5:14) The light of the world saying reminds us not to isolate ourselves from others but to model what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the midst of a fallen world. Jesus tells us,
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. (Matthew 5:15)
We can see the futility of lighting a lamp and hiding it under something - it defeats the purpose of a lamp. But this is what we so often do with our Christian faith; we hide it under the bowl of shame and fear, only bringing it out some Sundays when we feel safe.
We are called to let our light shine before others. Why? So that they might see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven. (Matt 5:16)
When we uncover our faith from whatever is causing us to hide it, our light will shine into the world of darkness. People will see our radically different lives and give glory to the One who is deserving of all glory.
Love that stands out
Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, and after he had washed his disciples feet, he told them:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)
In light of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for us, our response should be to love. (1 John 4:19)
Jesus also stated that by our love all people will know that we are his disciples. So when the world chooses to show hate, we can choose to show love, just like our saviour Jesus did. The world will begin to realise that we are different and this is when we can explain to them why. The more we become like our Saviour, the more different we will become from the world, and this is a beautiful thing.
Don’t conform, but be transformed
It can become so tempting for us to follow the way of the world and shrink back to what is comfortable. The apostle Paul urges us:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind (Romans 12:2)
The world has its own way of thinking and living that we, as followers of Jesus, must avoid. However, we cannot transform ourselves. The work of God’s Spirit within us must reprogram the corrupt mind that marks this world. Our lives change when we are changed from within.
At the end of the day, there will always be highs and lows in our walk with Jesus. At times it will be hard to stand for him in this sinful world. I leave you with the comforting words of John Piper, “Our faith will always have flaws in this life, but God saves us based on Jesus’ perfection, not out own.”
We only do, because of what he has already done. We are saved by the perfect life of Jesus, the undeserved death that he died, and the victorious resurrection, not by what we do. But because we have been saved, our lives are in a process of being changed.
God is the one who has “shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Cor 4:6). What can we do but respond in thankfulness and urgency? When His light penetrates our own hearts, we will move compassionately towards those still living in darkness. Let’s stand out for Jesus.
Let’s be more like Jesus than the world, because we aren’t really shining our own light, but rather reflecting his. Jesus is the light of the world. (John 8:12) He is the only hope that this world has to be rescued from darkness and into his kingdom. (Colossians 1:13)
Let’s live and love like him and constantly tell others of what he has done for us. Let’s stand out from the world, so that God will stand out in and through us for his glory.