On Sunday, we considered the call to do all things without grumbling or disputing so that we might shine as lights in the world. When we think about shining as lights in the world, we need to keep in mind that there are two components to this. First there is a verbal component. We verbally spread the good news of all that God has done in Christ to transform hateful sinners into loving saints. In Matthew 28:18-20, the Lord Jesus commanded us to make disciples. This simply cannot be done without our verbally sharing the gospel. As Paul writes in Romans 10:17, faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ. For, how shall they believe in Him of whom they have never heard? (Rom 10:14)
If we expect to be faithful lights in the world, we cannot do so while keeping our mouths closed when it comes to the gospel. It’s easy in a culture like ours to focus on “lifestyle evangelism,” in which we take the time to build relationships with the lost for the purpose of eventually sharing the gospel. But many times, we build those relationships and never get around to actually speaking of the hope that lives within us. We must remember that the people with whom we are building relationships cannot be saved by a gospel they have never heard.
The second component of living as lights in the world is the lifestyle component. We must live transformed lives. We must live differently than the world around us. As we’ve noted so frequently in our study of Philippians, the gospel claims to transform people. Therefore, if we have believed the gospel, we should live transformed lives. Transformed lives advertise the truthfulness of the good news we proclaim.
Just as we should not expect to lead people to the Lord without sharing the gospel, we also should not expect to lead people to the Lord by sharing the gospel while living ungodly lives. If we claim that the gospel transforms individuals into the image of Christ, but we are not growing into that image ourselves, people will not believe our message.
These two components work together to shine light in the world. The verbal component gives the content of the good news. The lifestyle component gives evidence of the veracity of the good news. Remove either component and there is no light.
What effect does light have on those in darkness? They are drawn to it. Perhaps mesmerized by it. Like a lighthouse, it draws them to the shore. It draws them to salvation. Jesus said in John 8:12, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. He is the light and all who come to Him have the light.
And according to Matt 5:14-16, those who have the light become the light themselves: "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
A person who speaks the gospel and who lives a lifestyle that is consistent with the gospel will be a light that is hard to ignore. Is there one of the two components – verbal or lifestyle – which you have been neglecting? If so, what needs to change in order to walk in greater faithfulness with Him?