“Let your light so shine before men.” Matthew 5:15
During this time of quarantining and social distancing, it seems, for many of us, our light for Christ is dimming a bit. We’re all hunkering down in our homes, and if we go out, we’re hiding behind face masks. It has become harder than ever to let our light shine. And with it goes our enthusiasm to be the church.
I know I’ve been feeling it. Perhaps you have too.
Until now, we were used to passing out hugs and handshakes with ear-to-ear smiles to anyone who would look our way. Now, we’re not allowed to come within six feet of each other. And if you are smiling, no one knows it unless they can see your eyes squinting. The entire situation has caused some Christians and non-Christians alike to experience great sadness or even depression.
It’s just not how it’s supposed to be, is it? It’s so…unJesus-like.
How can we reignite the shine in our light? How can we get our passion for the Gospel back?
Don’t Hide Your Light
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
In His sermon on the mount, Jesus first gives the Beatitudes (“Blessed are the…”) followed by the Similitudes. He mentions only two things in the Similitudes—salt and light—and Jesus commands us to do something with them.
With salt, we are to preserve the Good News of Christ by being careful of how we talk so we don’t ruin our witness. We “season” our conversations and actions out of our love for God, or else we risk our message being tossed aside like a salty weed killer (Matthew 5:13).
With light, we are to freely let it—our love for Jesus—shine for everyone to see. We are not supposed to hide it. The problem these days, though, is it’s hard to let our light shine when it’s hidden under a mask. So, what does one do?
It begins with rediscovering the two things you’ve forgotten: your purpose and your passion.
Love God, Serve Others
The first thing we must do when we are seeking purpose in our lives is to put God in the middle of it. Our purpose is not what we think it ought to be. It’s always what God says it is.
I’ve seen many Christians suddenly feel paralyzed with this truth. They sit on their hands waiting for God to do “the big reveal,” but it never comes. Why? It’s because God’s purpose requires action. It doesn’t sit still and wait, but rather gets up and gets involved.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect example.
His entire life was about serving others. Whether He was healing the sick, exorcising demons, or washing feet, serving others was His main desire and goal.
“And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
Jesus’ heart is our directive. He does not directly command us to serve, but He obviously encourages it. When we look at Jesus’ life, we can see why. Every time He served someone, He changed their life and made it better. I’m talking beyond miraculous healings. The way He touched people’s lives was simply by being available and offering help wherever He could.
Jesus had a servant’s heart, and so should we. We find purpose when we put God first and serve others.
Take Your Light Outside the Church
With many of our churches closed right now, it’s a challenge to serve. So as a church, we must think outside of the church walls.
Yes, you can feed your neighbor’s fish while they go on vacation. You can take groceries to the widow down the street. Those acts of kindness are wonderful, of course. But can you take it a bit farther?
How about inviting that widow to church with you, whether an in-person service or online? Did you know two-thirds of Americans don’t attend church? You know your church is great, so how about inviting someone to go with you?
Can you invite someone you know who is having a difficult time over for dinner? Or, maybe you can take a meal to them and eat at their house.
Maybe you’re not comfortable leaving the house much right now. So, how about your social media contacts?
Another mom from my church recently contacted me through a popular social media platform with questions about our children’s ministry. We were not close friends, and I had not talked to her in almost a year. But just by messaging back and forth, I learned she was struggling with isolation. She needed someone to listen to her, to really take time and listen. I comforted and encouraged her as best I could. I even prayed over her. And by the time we finished, she was feeling a lot better.
God was in the purpose, but I didn’t know it at the time. I thought I was just answering questions about our church. But one thing led to another. God took me from glory to glory, and in the end, I was ministering to her, lifting her up. It wasn’t me thinking what my purpose ought to be. It was God’s purpose in me and being available to someone in need.
God can give you purpose beyond volunteering at church. The people in your neighborhood and on your social media need an encouraging word from God right now. Why not let them hear it from you?
Finding Purpose in the Little Things
My conversation with the other mom was just a quick revealing of God’s purpose. It happened all in one afternoon. I can think of another that took years and involves one of my pastors.
He was encouraged as a teenager to get involved in our church’s preschool classes. A relatively shy kid, he wasn’t so sure about it at first, but he slowly adapted and ended up being known as “Glen the Clown” among the kids.
Over time, through more encouragement, he was placed into bigger and more significant areas of ministry that required more responsibility and a whole lot more public speaking, which he absolutely hated. And I do mean hated! He was completely content being “Glen the Clown,” and he asked to stay with the kids. But the church told him he was needed elsewhere. Despite that, he hated public speaking so much he resigned from his job in the church.
Then our lead pastor moved away (and, sadly, later died of cancer), and the church needed a soothing hand to help the church transition. It took months, but Glen reluctantly accepted. He wasn’t sure about it, but he kept his heart open to God’s purpose. Now, he’s the lead pastor of the church. Better yet, he loves it.
Again, God was in the purpose, leading him along, taking him from one “God assignment” to the next, one step at a time. And now, his light is shining bright, and he’s changing lives and hearts every day for the kingdom.
Put God first. Serve others. And serve without seeking any attention for yourself. It’s not about your rewards. It’s always about God’s glory and His intentions for you.
Trust Him. Be faithful in the little things. You will then find your purpose.
Reigniting Your Passion
The other way to reignite your light is to rediscover your passion for God. The book of Revelation has a great example of this. An angel of the Lord will need to remind the church in Ephesus of their passion in the end times. It’s a good piece of advice for us now.
Revelation 2:4-5 says,
“Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember, therefore, from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works.”
The church will lose its passion for the Gospel. Sometimes we do too, either because of circumstances (like a pandemic) or by our own doing. The Bible says the remedy is to repent first, to turn away from the place of desolation you feel you are in.
How do we do that? By going back and doing the “first works,” which means whatever you were doing when you first fell in love with Jesus.
Remember that feeling when you first accepted Jesus into your life? Oh, happy day, right? Remember the excitement you had, how you were ready to take on the world for God? Go anywhere, anytime, talk to whoever would listen so you could proclaim the Gospel? How you couldn’t wait to get to church and meet new friends? Yeah, that feeling. Remember?
The Bible says to go back and do those things again.
Back to the Beginning
In going back to our “first works,” we rediscover not only our purpose—our light—but also our passion and enthusiasm for Christ.
The Greek translation for enthusiasm is “entheos” or “enthous.” The word has taken on several meanings over the centuries. The original Greek meant “to be possessed or inspired by a god.” It had a derogatory connotation used to describe those who were religiously zealous or excessive with their religious emotion. Over time, the term became less derogatory and meant less about being religious, but it did retain the feeling of zeal or excitement for something.
For Christians, we might regard “entheos” another way. “En” meaning “in” and “theos” (as in the word theology) meaning “with or of God,” which can be translated as being filled with God or “in God.”
Our “entheos” is our excitement about being filled with the spirit of God. And in our enthusiasm, we reignite our light.
Who is Your Light Shining For?
When we’re trying to recapture our purpose and passion, it’s helpful to remember why our light glows at all. And, it comes from knowing who we’re shining our light for.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 3:23
You could have the worse job on the planet, but if you do everything with God in mind, your attitude shifts. People begin to notice there’s something different about you. And that’s the light of God in you.
Pastor Craig Groeschel of Life.Church in the central United States gave another great example. His wife wanted to be sure all the lights in the house were turned off every night before they went to sleep. Apparently, the good pastor didn’t care one way or the other about the lights, but his wife did. So, every night, he went around the house and turned off all the lights. What’s the big deal? It’s just lights, right? But the pastor’s heart was to please his wife. He remembered who he was doing it for. So, their marriage grew stronger.
It’s the same with God.
When we remember who we’re shining our light for, when we do it for God’s glory and not our own, it ignites a new enthusiasm, a new passion in our hearts for Him. And with our passion, our relationship grows stronger, and the light grows brighter.
How’s your light doing? Is it still burning bright, or do you need to go back and do your “first works?” It’s never a bad thing to go back to where it all started. I promise God will meet you there, ready to help you rediscover your passion for Him so you can have a renewed purpose in your life. A life filled with entheos and overflowing joy at the very mention of His name.
This is such a strange time, but we are still offered ways to shine the light of His glory and grace! Thank you for pointing out that it is the Holy Spirit in us that gives us the enthusiasm to share, and ‘be the church!’