Service Sunday 29th March 2020
Matthew 6: 22-23 says this 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
What is the source of our light? Is it from God? Or is it maybe from our own learning? Or what other people have told us? Or are we, like the moon, shedding a reflected light, which is only a pale imitation of the true light?
The light of the Lord Jesus Christ needs to be in each of us. Without it, what have we to offer? We cannot see our own way without the light of His presence guiding us – how can we possibly lead others or show them the right way without having that light in us?
In 1 Sam 16, God tells Samuel that each of Jesse’s sons who pass before him is not the one whom God has chosen. They looked handsome and well-formed – they were each, in a worldly sense, real men and worthy. But God says this: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
What is in our hearts? Is it the knowledge and the fear of the Lord, or just words? What is the source of the light in us?
It is not always easy to tell if someone has the true light of Jesus – some people are very good at faking it; they have all the phraseology and the responses down pat – but it is just head knowledge.
Jesus wants to bring us into a heart knowledge of Himself, not just the knowing in the mind but the absolute knowing that comes with His presence indwelling each of us.
When we meet someone who seems to have it all correct, who says the right thing and does the right thing, but there is something we just can’t put our finger on that doesn’t quite gel, maybe that person hasn’t yet managed to move the eight inches down from the mind’s knowledge of God to the heart’s knowledge of God.
We look so readily on the outside – we are attracted to beautiful people, to people who make us feel good for whatever reason. We are susceptible to charm, to position, and, if we are honest, to money. Those who live well, have nice cars and houses, are able to enjoy their lives with little if any financial restraint – we find that whole idea attractive, and tend to want to seek after it ourselves.
But each person in that position is just like us. They have the same dramas, the same doubts, the same fears. Sickness reaches them just as it reaches any of us. What makes the difference? Not money, not status, not looks – but a knowledge of the goodness and faithfulness of God that keeps us secure and trusting in His mercy.
In these times of stress and fear, of self-isolation and panic buying, where is our light? Where do we go to find relief and comfort? Who is our safety?
Psalm 91 is a tremendous comfort and reassurance in these times.
You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
2 will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence;
4 he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
or the arrow that flies by day,
6 or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
Don’t these sound like promises to hang onto?
Later in the psalm, the psalmist says:
Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
15 When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honour them.
16 With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.
When circumstances around us make us fearful, remember whose you are. Remember that this is the God you serve, the Almighty, the one who shelters you under His wings, the one who protects you.
We do not want to be like the Pharisees in our reading today who thought that they could see – after all they had the knowledge of the scriptures and studied the scriptures – but they could not. Jesus said to them: “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
If we come to God in humility, honestly saying to Him, “Lord, I do not understand; I am fearful, and I am struggling with all of this. Help me to trust in You, help me to believe Your word and to believe that You are my redeemer, saving me from everything I need to be saved from; because I need Your help here.” God will hear you. He will answer, and He will cover you with His love and His Grace.
Those of us who are most at risk – and that includes most of us here, carry within us the light of the world. We know that whatever happens, God is with us. He will lead us and He will sustain us. We belong to Him, and He has promised to be with us and protect us. Encourage one another. Pray for one another. But remember also that there is a world of fearful people out there who need our prayers even more. God is able to use the light of His presence in us and our prayers to impact the lives of people we don’t even know. We have His light – let’s be a part of that light reaching out and touching our frightened and needy world, not physically, but in prayer and love.
As John 9: 8-9 says: “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.”
Let us pray:
Lord, by Your grace
We are not people of fear:
By Your grace we are people of courage. By Your grace
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
we are people of generosity.
We are your people, God,
giving and loving, wherever we are,
whatever it costs, For as long as it takes wherever you call us.
May we be united in our commitment to one another, to all who live around us, and to the world we share. May we find ways to set our own anxiety aside and to remember we are not alone. May God’s peace settle upon you and remain with you always. Amen