O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Shine like Stars in your Family
"Shine like Stars in your Family"
October 2, 2011
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The Text for the sermon this morning is the theme verse for the LWML-C:
Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
Fellow baptized saints, God's lights shining in the world, this may sound like a silly question, but what do lights do? Now I'm not looking for the scientific answer, you know, well, they transmit photons in order to illuminate. I'm looking for a simple answer, one that really describes what they do. Think about it again, what do lights do? They shine, don't they? That's what lights do. They shine. They don't stay dark. They don't hide. They don't cover things up, or block things. They are lights. They shine.
This simple observation helps us understand what St. Paul is saying in our text this morning. He is reminding the saints in Philippi what God has made them and what that means for their lives here on earth. They are not who the world says they are, and they are not to live as the world lives. Let's take a look at what he says.
He begins, "do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent." What?!? Without grumbling or questioning? But that is not what I see in the world. That is not what my role models show me. Yet God wants us to live lives that cause no offense to the Gospel. Lives that appear innocent before the world. That appear blameless.
We are not to be seen as one who complains, as one who lays their problems on other people, who join in with the talk shows in grumbling about injustices. It seems that today, grumbling and complaining is sophisticated. We go about our lives looking for wrongs to point out. We race to be the first to notice them and share them with others. We think we are being a light in the world when others take our side about some petty issue. But St. Paul says that lights don't grumble, Christians don't grumble, for we believe that Christ has control of all of our problems. He has given us security in His resurrection from the dead. What's more, He has also promised to hear our prayers, and has given us fellow Christians to share in our joys and sufferings. If we need to grumble, God wants us to grumble to Him, or our pastor, or a fellow Christian who can remind us of the eternal life that awaits us. The world is not to see Christians grumbling and complaining.
In the same way, God does not want His children sowing seeds of doubt in the world. We are not to be seen as one who questions authority, as one who criticizes, as one who immediately calls ‘baloney' for anything anyone says. Even though the world teaches us to be skeptical of everything and to doubt everyone, St. Paul reminds us that lights don't question, Christians don't criticize, for we submit ourselves to the Word of God and our parents, governments and all other authorities that God has established. If we need to criticize, God wants us to come to Him in prayer, or our pastor, or a fellow Christian who can remind us that God has put these authorities in place for our good. The world is not to see Christians questioning and criticizing.
And yet, it is sad to say, that although lights are supposed to shine, we have been rather dark. We have hidden. We have covered up Christ who wants to shine from within us. We have become dim in the weakness of our flesh and have taken on these worldly patterns of grumbling and questioning. We have twisted in towards our own will, instead of being illuminated by the eternal will of God. And we need to repent.
Here is where the great mercy of God shines into your heart and promises that you are forgiven. For God will not punish you for your grumbling and questioning, for He has already punished His Son in your place. Christ, who was led like a lamb to the slaughter, did not open His mouth. He did not grumble or complain or question, but submitted Himself to His Father's will, so that He could take your punishment and give you His innocence. The light of the world punished for the darkness of the world. And shining there on the cross, pouring out His innocent light upon the world for their salvation, Christ shines His forgiving light into your darkened heart. He forgives you for every dark moment you have ever had, and promises to shine in you in the days to come.
For as St. Paul says, "You are children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation." You are His dear child, because He called you His own in baptism. You are without blemish, because the light of Christ shines brighter than all of your dark sins and this alone does God see in you. You are in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, because Christ shines through you into the darkness of the generation around you. He has made you His light in this world. He wants you to have a greater influence on them, than they have on you. Do not let the crooked and twisted generation trick you into thinking that you should hide God's light within you. Do what lights do. Shine. Share the light that God has given you. Share the forgiveness that Christ has won for you. Share the light of the world, even our Lord Jesus Christ, with those He brings into your glow, for that is why you are here.
You don't have to be an astrophysicist to understand that the stars shine, and you don't have to be St. Paul to let God shine through you. Instead, let God humble you so that His light may shine brighter through the meekness and purity of your life. For God's light shines brightest from the cross, the place of the greatest humiliation and weakness ever conceived, where the Almighty Creator of the world gave His life to save His enemies. May each of us beg of Him, Shine Jesus, Shine. In His Holy Name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr