INTRODUCTION: Do you love light? When the days get longer, do
feel better? I think I do. When I think about light, a couple of
business trips stick out in my mind. Once I was flying during the
winter from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles. Another time I flew
to Orlando. In each case, when I stepped out of the airport I was
struck by the brightness of the sun! The light seemed to be
several degrees brighter than normal in Los Angeles and Orlando.
This week our lesson is about light, so let's jump into our study!
I. YOU = LIGHT
A. Read Matthew 5:14-16. Last week you were
called "salt." Now
you are called "light." Do you see a relationship between the
two? What relationship do you see? (Both improve the
situation. Both make things better. But too much can be
B. What are the characteristics of light? (Help
you to see.
Necessary for all things to live and grow. Light is energy and
warmth. Medium of communication.)
1. For each of
these characteristics of light, what do
you see as a parallel for your Christian walk? Do these
parallels give you a "job description" for what you
should be doing?
a. What can you do to help people "see?"
b. What can you do to help people live and grow?
c. What can you do to energize people?
d. What can you do to facilitate communication
between man and God?
2. Is it possible
to make an unpleasant situation by
providing too much light? (See, for example, Luke 9:44-
45. If the disciples had known exactly what was going to
happen to Jesus, it would have been very discouraging.
Giving light to a person is a measured thing. We should
not "dump" everything we know on a new believer. We need
to have some sense of what and when to teach.)
II. YOU = CITY ON THE HILL
A. Our text (Matthew 5:14) says, "A city on
the hill cannot be
hidden." What does that have to do with light? (Light reveals.
Jesus says that if you have "light" in your life, you will be
like a city on the hill. People will notice you.)
1. Do you want
to be noticed? I have a friend who says
he learned in the army the advantage of not "sticking
a. Should you, as a Christian, want to be noticed?
people like Madonna get noticed. They draw
attention to themselves. Is this the way the Christian
life is supposed to be?
a. Our lesson suggests (Monday) "Christians are the
light of the world only in the sense of service and
not in the sense of [drawing attention to
themselves]." Do you agree?
b. That statement separates us from Madonna, but is
it true that we are only "light" in the sense of
service? Let me ask you a few questions to see if
we can understand this better.
3. When you eat
in public, do you obviously pray? Or do
you pray in the same instant as you wave your napkin in
front of your face?
a. If you were obviously praying, would that be
drawing attention to yourself in a context outside
of service? (Yes.)
4. When you talk
with your friends about religion in a
public place do you lower your voice? Is that because
you do not want to draw attention to yourself?
5. Do you fear
that if people know that you are a
Christian they will think less highly of you?
6. Have you ever
been in a large group of unbelievers and
someone told a joke that made fun of God. Did you laugh
because you did not want to seem odd?
7. What if you
are out with a small group who did not
believe in God and they decided to do something you
believed was sinful. Would you go along so that you would
not be different?
B. All of these examples involve drawing attention
in a way that makes you "different," "odd" or "peculiar." You
are not really doing anything for the people around you. You
are just making a statement, making a stand, drawing a line in
the sand. Is that the same as being a city on a hill?
1. If you agree
that being different from the world is
fulfilling your obligation to be a "city on the hill,"
how do you rate? Are you standing up? Or, like my
friend, are you trying to just blend in? Not make waves?
III. LIGHTS AND BOWLS
A. Notice again Matthew 5:15. Jesus says that
a person does
not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Why not? (It makes
no sense. If you wanted the light to be hidden, it would be a
lot easier not to go to the trouble of creating the light in
1. What is Jesus message to us in the "lights and bowls?"
2. Is Jesus suggesting
that if you are not going to try
to influence others with your light, you would be better
off not going to the effort of becoming a Christian in
a. Is Jesus suggesting that "light-bearing" is
essential to the Christian life?
B. Recently, I have been reading and hearing
the idea that
religion is something for the "home" and "church" -- and no
where else. Generally the people saying this seem to be
enemies of the gospel who are discussing the proper place, as
a public policy matter, for religion.
1. Can religion
ever be confined to the home and church?
2. Would anyone who read Matthew 5:14-15 suggest religion
could or should be confined?
3. Is it true religion if it is confined?
4. What about
the person who says "I should not have to
put up with hearing your religious ideas?" "I should not
have to worry about my children being exposed to your
5. I have a case
right now involving a religious
objector. One of the recent decisions that I read in
preparing to defend this man of faith was about a woman
who was fired for sharing her faith at work. She lost her
case because the court essentially said other people
should not have to put up with hearing from her.
a. Is society losing sight of the fact that an
essential aspect of Christianity is witnessing?
b. Are we failing as "light" when people think
they can logically say, "You can be a Christian,
but we expect you to keep it to yourself?"
IV. LIGHT = DEEDS
A. Let's re-read Matthew 5:16. What is equated
lightbearing in this verse? (Our "good deeds.")
B. Remember that earlier we discussed whether
we could be
light apart from our "service?" I thought we agreed (contrary
to what the lesson said) we we could be light even when it was
not just "service." DoesDoes this text prove that we were wrong
and the lesson wasright?
1. Would the
world have any problem with our "light"
being outside our homes and churches if our light was
a. The woman that I referred to earlier, who was
fired because of her religious beliefs, was being
"light" by her words. She was not fired for her
b. Is Jesus teaching us that we should be
lightbearers primarily through our deeds and not
c. How essential are deeds to "lightbearing?"
d. How essential are words to "lightbearing?"
C. Notice the linkage in v.16. Your good deeds
are followed by
them praising your Father in heaven. How do they get to know
your Father in heaven? (Words.)
1. Is Jesus saying
that in our witnessing (our
lightbearing) we should lead with our deeds? (If Jesus is
not saying this, He is at least suggesting that people
can see our "good deeds" a lot more easily than they can
hear our "good words.")
2. Have you ever
done a "self-audit" of your witness at
a. Are you leading with your deeds or your words?
b. Do you have any good deeds that would catch the
attention of others at work?
3. How about
your witness to your neighbors? Are you
leading with your good deeds or your words?
a. Can you think of a single "good deed" you have
done for your neighbor?
b. If not, what kind of light can you expect them to
4. How many of
you have seen bumper stickers proclaiming
faith in God? I do not remember seeing any of those in
the church parking lot. Ever consider putting one of
those on your car?
a. If you have considered it, and decided against
it, tell me why?
b. I have considered it and rejected the idea
because my driving is not consistently (or maybe
even mostly) "good deeds." I know I would be
creating trouble for God to put one of these
stickers on the bumper of my car.
c. How about your life? As a practical matter, do
you have a "bumper sticker" on your person? How
carefully should we consider our witness? (We need
to consider this area very carefully. Good deeds
are the opening by which we can explain our
relationship to God. Bad deeds are an excellent
way to block our co-workers and neighbors from
knowing God. We need to strive to be light!)
V. SUMMER BREAK: The lesson outline will be suspended until July
23, 1998. (You can expect a new posting on the web site on that
day.) Will see you again then! Study the Bible in the meantime!