I realize in writing this article, that the very title condemns me. I am indicted by the very thoughts I am trying to express.
Jesus, in Matthew 5:16, admonished His followers to let their lights shine before men, bringing glory to the Father. This metaphorical light involved “good works”. Apparently, Jesus called upon those who heard Him to set a good example for others to hopefully emulate. This admonition brings to mind the old saying that “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one.”
Too often, I feel that we assume that letting our “light” shine, as Jesus directed, means, first and foremost, sharing our superior knowledge with others, so they can then be converted to our way of thinking or belief system. Shedding light on the world then becomes an exercise in semantics and biblical exegesis. The “light” of mere words shines no brighter for the hearer just because we may claim to be the messenger of God. Too many such claims throughout history have proven the inadvisability of accepting such pretentions.
A sermon lived, however, is hard to ignore. The example of a life well lived proclaims the true message of Jesus loud and clear. No amount or pontificating about whose salvation experience is real, which church is doctrinally correct, or when Jesus will return can ever transform a life. The whole idea that the world will be changed for the better by preaching is a figment of the church’s imagination. If and when real spiritual change happens in our lives, it will occur when we heed the example of Jesus and forget about the words proclaimed by men.