Living As Lights in the World
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Paul tells us, "Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain" (Philippians 2:14-16). God expects us to be examples to the people of the world.
What else did Christ say about our example to others?
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).
We have a responsibility to display the fruit of God's Spirit and His love toward others through our behavior and example.
Should our desire to be a good example affect the way we dress?
"I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works" (1 Timothy 2:8-10).
"Do not let your adornment be merely outward-arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel-rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God" (1 Peter 3:3-4).
Dressing and grooming ourselves modestly in styles that show we have a genuine sense of propriety and moderation are important to God. We should avoid extremes that draw undue attention to ourselves or that label us as strange.
Equally important is our attitude—the way we think about ourselves and how sensitive we are to the sensitivities of others. When our thinking is moral and considerate of others—when it reflects the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5)—it will normally be mirrored in the choices we make in our grooming and behavior. These choices generally tell much about our character.
We need to reach a balance. We need to dress and groom ourselves suitably, appropriate for the occasion, without going to the extreme of drawing excessive attention to ourselves. The main point is that our attire and demeanor should always be honorable and respectable.
What should most distinguish us from the rest of this world?
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4).
"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).
"And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit [that] He has given us" (1 John 3:24).
Our lives should be examples of obedience to all of God's Word in a loving manner that reflects the Spirit of God dwelling in us.
How does Jesus expect His Church to relate to the rest of the world?
"As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world" (John 17:18).
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you ..." (Matthew 28:19-20).
Besides setting the example of how God wants people to live, the Church must be actively teaching and explaining God's ways to those who are willing to listen. The public spreading of the gospel is usually the responsibility of individuals ordained and specially trained to effectively communicate Christ's message to public audiences.
Paul, for example, asked members of the church in Ephesus to request God's assistance "with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit ... that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak" (Ephesians 6:18-20). Paul had a very visible public ministry, but he also treasured and solicited the Church brethren's prayers and support. In this way they worked together to accomplish the mission God has given His Church.
Today the members of God's Church are no different. Those who have God's Spirit working in them are eager to be examples of God's way of life and to do their part in helping send the true gospel of Jesus Christ to all peoples.
Does God take special notice of His servants who take the time to communicate and work together?
"Then those who revered the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD took note and listened, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who revered the LORD and thought on his name. They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act, and I will spare them as parents spare their children who serve them. Then once more you shall see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him" (Malachi 3:16-18, NRSV).
Meeting with others of like mind is important. The United Church of God, an International Association, has hundreds of congregations throughout the world that are dedicated to serving God and doing His work. If you would like the address or phone number of one of our ministers, please contact us.
At the time we receive God's Spirit, through the ceremony of baptism, we become Christ's. From that time forward God has high expectations of us as His children. He expects us to sincerely and enthusiastically follow His way of life as lights in the world.