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Sermon – 11/24/02 –
The Lights of the City - Matthew 5:14-16


The Lights of the City

“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.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16)

We were looking out the second floor windows of a restaurant called "The Reef," at the lights of Long Beach, across the bay.  The city reflected on the water was beautiful to see.  It was so similar to the lights reflected on the Potomac River, which we saw a couple of years ago, and the lights of Manhattan, seen in June of this year.

The occasion was the annual "Pastors Appreciation Dinner" for "Love Long Beach," a group formed by Pastors Doug and Valerie Richardson of Long Beach Christian Fellowship, to bring those in ministry into fellowship with one another.  The hope of that group is that we will become friends, who will continue to pray together for the city, city officials, citizens, churches, and for each other.

It's rare for pastors of various churches to reach out and help one another, especially on any kind of continuing basis.  Doug and Valerie have been attempting to make this happen for many years.  Doug has personally been rebuffed by others in his efforts, observing that many in ministry do not WANT such relationships.  All too often it’s “MY Church,” as though we somehow invented it.  Most prefer to go it alone.  Insulting remarks have been made to this gentle man, because of his vision that we should learn to love and support one another in Christ.  Incredible!

I have an advantage in that area, because the Lord saw fit that I would enter the ministry later in life.  Though I did take classes in college that included Theology, Homiletics, Small Group Ministry, and so on, I know firsthand that we NEED one another in the Body of Christ.  Let us thank God for pastors who will 1) openly share their own needs, and 2) help others who might be in different settings.  (We ALL are in desperate need of one another).  Tragically though, most simply deny that they lack anything.  The second tragedy is that such denial leads to a false superiority that blocks true fellowship.

At the time we were looking out those windows, we were praying for the City of Long Beach.  First one pastor, then another, then a spouse, another pastor, and so on, would speak out in prayer, as we raised the cry of our hearts that God will bless, save and protect this city, its people, officials, police, churches, and all who are a part of this community.

Obviously, other pastors and "lay" people, in cities and places all over the world, should get together and pray in such a manner.  Some do exactly that, but all too few.  There are really no such characters as "lay" people, by the way.  If you are in Christ, you are a part of the “priesthood” of believers (1 Peter 2:9), and whether it is your intention or not, you are in the service of our King.

So, if you haven't already done it, go find yourself Christian people who are willing to pray with you.  Find a place like a restaurant periodically and break bread together, or use your home, a local church, or wherever.  Pray for your family, neighborhood, city, country, church - pray for the place and people where you live.  Pray for revival to come.  Pray not only for your own church and pastors, but also for other churches in the area.  Do this often.  We need your prayers, for we all need one another.

Jesus said, “You are (collectively) 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.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).  Most people are aware of the “Sermon on the Mount” and many have heard of this section about “the light of the world.”  Few personally acknowledge the call to action represented by those words.

In the Church, we are that “light” because we reflect the true “Light”, who is Jesus Christ (John 8:12).  Our job is to bear His image, accurately reflecting His love into the hearts and lives of those we meet.  If we are not “one” (John 17:22) in relation to one another, we become like a broken mirror that does not accurately reflect the light.

I saw a somewhat older movie recently, during which the camera "panned" the skyline of New York City.  It was infinitely sad when the former "Twin Towers" came on screen.  Yes, we see a city at night, as reflected across the waters, and it can be wonderful.  But it's really the people that are beautiful, when you think about it.  Their presence should touch us with the exquisiteness of the moment and we should take them to the Lord in prayer.  Our eyes can see the lights, but our hearts should also "see" the people and pray for them, reaching out to the needs represented by every light in those buildings.

Just like those in the Twin Towers, all our lives can be shaken and changed in an instant.  The people in YOUR city, country, neighborhood and home, need the Son of God, and none of us know how much time we have!  This life is but a moment, and the reflection of eternity is touching everything we say and do.  Reach out to Jesus and let Him change your life.  And then, as in the Christian song of a few decades ago, "Tell a friend."

Father, I give my heart and life to You.  I need Jesus, the Son of God, and I receive Him now.  Fill me, Holy Spirit, and let me reflect Your Light into the lives of others in this dark world.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
www.FridayStudy.org
Ron@FridayStudy.org
P.O. Box 92131
Long Beach, CA  90809-2131

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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