Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
The Light of the World; Sleebo Feast
Volume 5 No. 304 September 11, 2015
 
This Week's Feature:
We Are The Light of The World

Introduction
"You Are the Light of the World." This is one of the memorable statements from a Parable stated by Jesus Christ. To understand it, we have to look at the companion "I am" Statement of Jesus Christ, "I am the Light of the World."

We do not generate the light; only God does. We, Christians, are the Ambassadors of Jesus Christ, by reflecting His light. In another words, when someone looks at us, they should see Jesus Christ in us. Mother Teresa often reflected the Light of Jesus in her face. For the dying, she provided the eternal bliss.

Robb McCoy, known as "The Fat Pastor" listed the following implications of being the light of the way recently. Let us take a look:

"You are the light of the world," are Jesus' words to his followers. They are words from what we call The Sermon on the Mount as found in Matthew 5-6. It is a small part of Jesus' dissertation about what it means to live in this world.

"You are the light of the world." It is a claim on those that had gathered. It is an assurance of what Jesus' followers are, and what they shall be.

"You are the light of the world," Jesus said so long ago.

"You are the light of the world," Jesus declares today. You and me.

So let your light so shine. There is a light that is within you that is good. There is a light within you that is of God. There is a light within you that needs to be seen. I think for a moment of the children in this world that have never been told that they are the light of anyone's world, and it breaks my heart. I think for a moment of people stuck in abusive relationships, allowing their light to be crushed, and I want to scream. I think for a moment of youth that want only to hide and be as invisible as possible so as not to draw anyone's attention, and it kills me to know that they have never been told, "You were created in the very image of God. The light that God created at the very moment of creation. That is in you. Hear Jesus crying to you, 'You are the light of the world.'"

The selected articles in today's Malankara World Journal explains this statement in more detail. Remember, Jesus said "You" are the Light of the world. Not someone else. We, as disciples of Jesus Christ and His followers have to live such that we should reflect His light.

September 14 is the Sleebo Feast. Malankara World has a special supplement that describes the importance of this feast. For Christians, cross is our "logo." When someone looks at us wearing the cross, it tells them that we are Christians. When they look at us, they should see the "light."

During the last few weeks, we had been presented with the heartbreaking stories of the families displaced from Iraq and Syria due to the Civil War going on there and trying to migrate to Europe in unsafe rubber dinghies and then walking miles and miles through railroad tracks towards Germany. A father held a 3 year old son whose dead body washed ashore. His wife, son and daughter had died. The family spent all they had in getting the passage to Greece; they had no money to buy life-vests for them. Now the father is taking all the dead bodies back to Syria for burial. Heart breaking story. Our Christian brothers and sisters are going through incredible sufferings in the cradle of civilization where Christianity has originated. With the mass exodus of Christians from these areas, there won't be any Christians left there.

"Persecution of Christians in the Middle East constitutes genocide because the oldest of the Christian communities are really being wiped out," stated Rep. Anna Eshoo (Calif.) yesterday (Sep 10, 2015).

Rep. Eshoo with Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (Nebr.) introduced legislation this week in the US Congress calling for the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and others be labeled "genocide."

"A genocide, because the oldest of the Christian communities are really being wiped out and there are so many other religious people of religious backgrounds that are going with them too," Eshoo said.

Fortenberry described Christianity in the Middle East as "shattered."

"The ancient faith tradition lies beaten, broken, and dying. Yet Christians in Iraq and Syria are hanging on in the face of the Islamic State's barbarous onslaught. This is genocide. The international community must confront the scandalous silence about their plight. Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities have every right to remain in their ancestral homelands."

Please join our Patriarch in praying for our brothers and sisters and for the abducted bishops in Middle East.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

The Light of The World

by Paul Estabrooks

"You are the light of the world. A town built 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 is also the great light of the world (John 8:12). Those who believe in Him are brought out of darkness into His light (Colossians1:12-13) and in turn become lights also. In essence, they live the beatitudes. What does light do?

A. It exposes dirt

If Christians live holy and righteous lives, it will show up the unrighteous deeds of others (Ephesians 5:8-14). An example is that people who take bribes feel very vulnerable if there are others that don't. Christians who work in government offices can, by their uprightness and integrity, diminish the amount of corruption just by their very presence and principles.

B. It lights up the way so that we do not stumble

If Christians walk by the principles of the Word of God, their lives take on a higher purpose and direction than that of self. This will not fail to attract the attention of a watching world. The world then is faced with a choice - to accept or reject such a model. To those who reject, that light becomes darkness. But for those who accept, that light illumines their lives and they will not make wrong choices.

C. It discourages works of darkness

More crimes are committed at night than in the daytime.

D. It dispels fear

When light shines, the phantoms of the night just fade away. People who are afraid of the dark prefer to sleep with the light on.

Light even enables discernment to be made - between friend and foe and between truth and counterfeit. It enables work to be done. Light enables plants to grow. Used in modern technology, it aids in telecommunications (fiber optics), helps to heal (lasers), and aids in publishing books.

The light of the Gospel also blesses in so many ways. And Christians who walk in it can in turn help others by sharing the knowledge they have concerning life, death, sin, salvation, God, the devil, heaven and hell. For these are the issues that plague man on a wide scale and for which they are striving to find adequate answers. The light will be recognized, not just in words, but in "good deeds" which lead others to praise our Father in heaven.

In Kumasi, Ghana, African Enterprise has been organizing city-cleaning teams. Before an evangelistic campaign, Christians often ask government leaders if they can clean it up. Then they send out teams of people with makeshift straw brooms and pails of soapy water to scrub the city. Christian workers have cleaned hospitals, city parks, and government grounds before major outreaches.

RESPONSE:

Today I am determined to shine for Jesus - the true light of the world!

PRAYER:

Lord, I want my life to count for You and Your kingdom. Help me be a lighthouse for You.

Source: Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS) Devotional
2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

A "Salt and Light" Job Description: Reflections on Matthew 5:13-16

By Dr. Alyce M. McKenzie

A woman was checking out at the grocery store one morning. The young cashier handed her the receipt and said cheerily, "Have a nice day!" To which the woman replied, "I'm sorry, but I have other plans."

Maybe she did have other plans, or maybe she just didn't appreciate being told what to do by someone she didn't even know.

"Have a nice day" is not the sort of thing Jesus ever said to anyone when leaving them or when they were leaving him. He said things like, "Go and sin no more," or "Rise, take up your bed and walk," and "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . ."

In these verses (Matthew 5:13-16), he is saying, "Go, be salt and light." Of course, lots of people, then and now, respond with, "Sorry, I have other plans."

Not a New Nametag and Job Description

Who likes to be told who to be and what to do by someone they don't even know?

Especially when it seems to come out of the blue. That's how this salt and light nametag seems on first reading. Like suddenly being handed a nametag and a job description without ever having applied for the position.

On first reading, this reminds me of the time I was attending a community-wide benefit banquet. Its purpose was to explore the causes of local poverty, help fund future efforts, and celebrate the contributions of key leaders during the past year. The organizer got up and welcomed us all and announced how happy he was that Rev. Jones, who happened to be sitting across from me, had agreed to be our keynote speaker for the evening. Judging from the shocked look on Rev. Jones' face, this was news to him. Either he'd forgotten he'd been asked, or the organizer had forgotten to ask him. He began scribbling notes on his napkin and, by the time the fudge cake and coffee had been served, he was ready with a credible, even eloquent speech. A little pressure can work wonders.

Jesus is not blindsiding his disciples (5:1) with a new mission and a new identity for which they have had no prior invitation, no time to prepare themselves. The task of bringing flavor to the world was not a new one for Israel. As for light, Israel had long regarded God as the source of light for daily life (Ps. 119: 105) and light itself (Ps 36:9). Israel's portrait gallery had long contained the picture, centuries old, of the Servant of Yahweh, who was to be a light to the nations through redemptive servanthood (Is. 42:6: 49:6). (See also Rom 2:19 and Phil 2:18.) More recently, the rabbis had spoken of the Torah as a mediator of light (Hare, 45).

Jesus' listeners, living in the context of Roman domination, would probably have known that Rome saw itself as a "light to the world." Jesus' message to the disciples is that living by the Beatitudes is a light to the world, not living by an imperial domination system (Reid, 36). The disciples are to take on the mission of the Servant of Yahweh from Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6, to be a light to the nations. The statement that they are to give light to all in the house is probably, for Matthew, a reference to the reformation of Judaism from within (Hill, 116).

Salt and Light

"You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world." This word you is emphatic in both verses. The intent may be to contrast Matthean Christians with their counterparts in the synagogue down the street. There is an implied imperative in both indicative statements. "Be salt. Be light. Be who you already have been called to be and are capable, by the power of God, of being in and for the world."

To be light is to participate in the identity of Christ. While the rabbis saw Torah as mediator of God's light, Christians ascribed this role to Jesus. "I am the light of the world" (Jn 8:12). Paul affirmed that he glimpsed the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 4:6) (Hare 45). It is a waste of precious oil to light a lamp and then immediately to douse it, quickly putting it under a basket.

When Jesus tells his disciples to "be salt," he is drawing on a number of Old Testament uses for salt. It was used for seasoning, preservation, and purifying (2 Kg. 2:19-22). It was used to ratify covenants (Num 18:29; Chr. 13:5) and in liturgical functions (Ex 30:35; Lev 2:13; Ezek 43:24; Ezra 6:9). To eat salt with someone signified a bond of friendship and loyalty (Ezra 4:14; Acts 1:4). Salt scattered on a conquered city reinforced its devastation (Jg 9:45) (Reid, 35).

In rabbinic metaphorical language, salt connoted wisdom (Hill, 115). Today, salt adds flavor to food, cures food, creates traction on icy roads, and can serve as an antiseptic in wounds.

Scholars have puzzled over whether salt can lose it flavor. Since salt is a very stable, non-reactive compound, the only way it can lose its flavor is by being diluted with water. New Testament scholar Barbara Reid comments that 5:13b, coming on the heels of Jesus' exhortation to rejoice when persecuted (5:11-12) is a warning to the disciples not to let their ardor dissipate under the pressures of persecution (Reid, The Gospel According to Matthew, 35).

"Lose its flavor" (moranthe) could also be rendered "become foolish." There may be a sense that if the disciples allow their wisdom (salt) to be diluted by the values of the surrounding culture, it will be indistinguishable from them and therefore worthless. Its ability to season, preserve, and purify will be lost (Hill, 115).

Douglas Hare points out that "salt of the earth" has become a way of saying "really good person." When we say, they are the "salt of the earth," we mean they have good values and are people of integrity (Hare, 44). But when Jesus hands us our receipt and says, "Go be salt," he means something much more specific and sacrificial.

Our Job Description

Salt and Light for the Whole World. Jesus' teachings in the Sermon are directed far beyond the narrow circle of the disciples themselves. We are to be salt and light for the whole world, not just a shaker of salt next to the corn pudding at the covered dish supper. Not just keeping the electric bill paid so the chandeliers in the sanctuary stay on. We are to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. Matthew 5:13-16 is connected, as if with an umbilical cord, to Matthew 28:19.

Salt and Light Give Glory to God, Not Ourselves. The goal of being salt and light is to give glory to "your Father in heaven" (see 5:17, 6:9, 11:25). These two metaphors are perfect for depicting a ministry that points beyond itself to God. Salt shouldn't call attention to itself in a well-seasoned dish. It enhances the combination of other ingredients. Light illumines other objects in the room beyond itself (Reid, 36).

Salt and Light Lead to Blessedness. The disciples are to be salt and light by living the commitments and virtues Jesus states lead to blessedness in the Beatitudes (5:1-12). Matthew, out of his Jewish background, is not afraid to speak of the rewards for faithful discipleship (5:12). But he affirms that authentic discipleship only happens in response to Jesus' mission as teacher, healer, and Savior. In keeping with the eschatological tone of the Beatitudes, the disciples are to live now the life that will be realized fully only at the end of time. It is a life that is, through Jesus, already breaking into the world (Senior, 72-73).

Have a Blessed Day?

But back to our cheery cashier with her "have a nice day!" and our crusty customer with her other plans.

I've noticed that many Christians have taken to saying, "Have a blessed day."

I realize that I tend to over-think things sometimes. But when I hear that, I think, "Do I really have any control over that? Are you going to be disappointed in me if you find out that things didn't go well for me today?"

If the speaker meant "Have a blessed day" in terms of Jesus' Beatitudes in Matthew, then they would be encouraging me to live in keeping with the blessedness instructions of Matthew 5:1-12. They would be reminding me that I am salt and light, and warning me to be prepared for the joy that comes from servanthood.

I have one friend who eschews "Have a nice day," and "Have a blessed day," in favor of "Have a righteous day." If we feel compelled to tell other people what kind of day to have, that's the best choice I've encountered so far!

Works Consulted

Douglas R. A. Hare, The Interpretation Commentary on Matthew (Louisville, Kentucky: John Knox Press, 1993)

David Hill, The New Century Bible Commentary, The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972)

Barbara Reid, O.P., The New Collegeville Bible Commentary, The Gospel According to Matthew (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2005)

Donald Senior, Abingdon New Testament Commentaries, Matthew (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1998)

About The Author:

Alyce M. McKenzie is the George W. and Nell Ayers Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

McKenzie's column, "Edgy Exegesis," is published every Monday on the Preachers Portal. Source: Patheos

Bible Study: Parable of the Light

by Martin G. Collins

In the Parable of the Light recorded in Matthew 5:14-16 (found also in Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16-17; 11:33-36), Jesus Christ uses two figures of speech to express the responsibility of true Christians to influence the world: "a city . . . on a hill" and "a lamp . . . on a lamp stand."

Many Judean cities were founded on the summits or sides of mountains, and travelers could see them from afar. Perhaps Jesus pointed to such a city, telling His disciples that they were like it. The city built on an important location can be seen by many eyes over a wide area, representing a disciple's far-ranging and widespread exposure to others.

Jesus' illustration of a shining lamp illuminating the home suggests a disciple's more intimate influence. By design, a Christian's actions cannot be hidden from the eyes of either our families or the world at large. This being the case, he must live a righteous, holy, humble, and pure life, letting his "light so shine before men [and thus] . . . glorify your Father in heaven."

1. How does "the light of the world" relate to "a city that is set on a hill"? Matthew 5:14; John 11:9; 1:4; 8:12; Revelation 21:23-24.

Comment: Light is of a three-fold nature: natural, artificial, and spiritual. The light of the sun is natural; that of a lamp, artificial; that of the Word and its believers, spiritual. The "light of the world" often denotes the sun, which renders objects visible, showing their form, nature, beauty, and sometimes, deformities. The phrase is preeminently applied to Jesus because He is to the moral world what the sun is to the natural world. The apostles, ministers, and all Christians are lights of the world, because they, by their witness, show what God requires, what man's condition is, and what way leads to the Kingdom of God.

2. Why should light not be hidden? Matthew 5:15; Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16; 12:35.

Comment: "Lamp" (NKJ) or "candle" (KJV) means any portable light, as a lamp, candle, or lantern. Jesus shows the disciples that He had enlightened them so that others might also see the light and benefit from it. When a person lights a lamp, he does not conceal the light but places it where it may be of use. So it is with God's way of life and those who follow it. God gives His truth to us to benefit others. It should not be concealed but show itself in stark contrast to the wicked world, thereby exposing and instructing it. If a light is concealed, as under a basket, no one benefits from it. However, considerate people place a lamp so that its benefits reach all who are in the house.

3. What should shine in view of others? Matthew 5:16; Proverbs 4:18; Romans 13:11-14; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:8-13; I Thessalonians 5:6-8; I John 2:16-17.

Comment: A Christian's righteous life, pleasant attitude, and good works, including pure conversation and faithful obedience, should not be hidden but be seen and known. We can give no light until we have received the grace of God and the enlightenment that comes through the Holy Spirit. Our lives must produce the fruit of the Spirit, reflecting the shining example of Jesus Christ. Humbly, in all communities, in all business, at home and abroad, in prosperity and adversity, it should be clear that we adhere to God's way of life. Letting our examples shine requires that we resist the influence of the world. We cannot have a light that shines and at the same time live as the world does with its lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life.

4. What should be our proper motive for letting our light shine? Matthew 6:1-4; Ephesians 2:10; I Timothy 5:25; Titus 2:1-10.

Comment: A Christian should not let his light shine to be praised by others, but to bring glory to the Father. The Pharisees acted to be seen of men, but true Christians behave to glorify God, caring little what people may think of them. It is by our conduct, not our pomp and circumstance, that others may be brought to honor God. We should live so that people may see from our good works the proper nature of God's way of life. Good works cannot be hidden because they stand in stark contrast to the ways of this wicked world. These works are required behavior at home and in the outside world.

5. How is the Father glorified? John 15:8; I Peter 2:12; 4:11, 14-19.

Comment: We glorify the Father by bearing the fruit of the Spirit and doing good works, by correctly praising and honoring Him, and by being led to worship Him properly in obedience. We provide a witness to the world when they see in our lives the excellence of God's way and the power and purity of the truth.

We learn five principles in this parable:

1. God's truth cannot be concealed.

2. Where light is not manifest in our lives, we make no witness.

3. Those who profess Christianity yet live like worldly people prove that they are not truly converted.

4. Attempting to hide our Christianity betrays God's trust, injures the cause of goodness, and renders our lives useless.

5. Good actions will be seen, leading people to honor God.

No sincere and humble Christian lives in vain, for at midnight even the feeblest light is of use.

Source: Forerunner, Bible Study, June 2002; 2002 CGG

Children's song: This little light of mine
This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine;
This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine

Let it shine
Let it shine
Let it shine.

Won't let Satan (blow) it out!
Won't hide it under a bushel - no!

Living in the Foreshadows

by Pete Briscoe

You don't have to live in the foreshadows

"Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one's own sunshine." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Like any good movie, God's unfolding story for humanity contains foreshadowing. He gives us the silhouetted outline of things that are coming, but without giving it away. The first foreshadow of His grace and mercy came right away, in Genesis 3:15, when God told Satan,

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

This is the first hint of the Gospel ever. This is a foreshadowing of the cross where Satan gives Jesus a hard shot, but in the end Christ crushes Satan through His death.

Another foreshadowing takes place when God looks at Adam and Eve and says, "You know, those fig leaves have gotta go." God made some permanent skin garments to cover their nakedness - and He had to kill an animal to do that. It's the first physical death in the history of the world and it is a symbolic one: God showed that through the death of an innocent One, He will put a new garment on you. It's a theme we see throughout the whole story of the Bible. Take Zechariah 3 for example:

Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes." Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you." Then I said, "Put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by. - Zechariah 3:3-5

Zechariah is talking about more than clothes here, and he explains how God is going to do this:

"' I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.'" - Zechariah 3:8-9

Wow. That's pretty clear! And the coolest part? You can experience today what he foreshadowed in the past. No more shadows needed. The light of Jesus has caught up with the foreshadow of prophecy and you can live in its brightness today!

My Lord and my God, I praise You, Jesus, for Who You are and what You have done. You removed my sin in a single day. You have taken off my filth and clothed me with clean, fine garments. What can I do except lift empty hands in thanks and praise to You today? Amen.

Source: Experiencing LIFE Today

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