Making a Difference

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

I have a friend at my church that I have grown to admire. His love for Christ is deep and his passion to witness for the Lord is unmatched. In short, he is on fire for Jesus.

A few Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to follow up with him about how things had been going at work. You see he explained to me several months ago that his born-again attitude seemed to be the brunt of a lot of jokes and asked me to pray that God would help him as he struggled to witness to his co-workers.

“So, how has it been going at work?” I asked.

“Mike,” he told me, “you wouldn’t believe it. I tell you the Spirit of God just goes right on in before me when I get around the guys I work with. Heck, some of them don’t even cuss around me anymore and the ones who do have started apologizing to me when they realize I’m around.”

My friend’s story reminds me of something that longtime Southern Baptist scholar Herschel Hobbs once observed. “We have noted that in Christ we have all that is necessary to live a full, rich life. But we are not to hoard it up within ourselves; we are to share it with others. We should endeavor to bring the difference Christ made in our lives into the social order in which we live.

Jesus agrees with that observation and even went into some detail to model just how we should witness to others. You might be surprised by the Lord’s suggestions.

When Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount, which is recorded in Matthew 5, he was speaking to believers. He began his sermon by pronouncing a series of eight blessings, usually called Beatitudes. But he also turned his attention to witnessing and used two common ingredients of his day to make his point.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” (Matthew 5:13)

Jesus point with regards to salt is that it cannot have any effect unless it comes in contact with something. The message to Christians everywhere is that we can lose our usefulness to God when we ignore the opportunities that come our way. Rather than pointing the way to Jesus, we can become part of the pathway that the world uses as it rushes on to corruption, despair and loss.

Jesus also compared Christian influence to light. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 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 5:14-15)

Jesus makes two often ignored observations about Christian witnessing. Obviously, when we are surrounded by darkness, there is nothing to see but light. In other words, the darker the world seems, the greater the opportunity to make a difference.

Secondly, God’s light is not meant to draw the attention to us. Instead it shows unbelievers that something else is going on. That’s exactly what Jesus meant when he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

My friend realizes that Christian witnessing does not have to be bold to be effective. While changed people should want to change the world around them, there is nothing wrong if a Christian chooses to be a quiet, effective witness for Christ. The truth is I think Jesus encourages it.

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