Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Light your space

At one of the institutions of higher learning that I attended, I decided to take tennis for PE credit. I really did want to learn to play. My mother plays very well. She has competed in many tournaments and hates to lose. She bought me a very nice racket and had me ready for my class.

The first day of class, our instructor (who was a member of the tennis team) had us hit the ball back and forth. We worked on nothing else all day, but getting the ball over the net. I assumed the mechanics of the class would come later. After the first class was over, he called us aside and told us that he would work with anyone who was genuinely interested, but if we did not want to return, he would make sure we got credit for the class.

Which do you think everyone chose? Of course! There was not a single person who ever returned to that tennis court for class. We all got an “A” for that class and we were happy. However, I never picked up my racket again except to pack it when I moved. It is still somewhere among my possessions to remind me that I never reached my potential because it was convenient for me to do nothing.

Several centuries ago in a mountain village in Europe, a wealthy nobleman wondered what legacy he should leave to his townspeople. He made a good decision. He decided to build them a church. No one was permitted to see the plans or the inside of the church until it was finished. At its grand opening, the people gathered and marveled at the beauty of the new church. Everything had been thought of and included. It was a masterpiece.

But then someone said, "Wait a minute! Where are the lamps? It is really quite dark in here. How will the church be lighted?" The nobleman pointed to some brackets in the walls, and then he gave each family a lamp, which they were to bring with them each time they came to worship."Each time you are here'" the nobleman said, "The place where you are seated will be lighted. Each time you are not here, that place will be dark. This is to remind you that whenever you fail to come to church, some part of God's house will be dark".That's a poignant story, isn't it? And it makes a very significant point about the importance of our commitment and loyalty to the church.

The poet Edward Everett Hale put it this way:
I am only one,but still I am one.
I cannot do everything,But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.

I have no idea if there ever was such a church as the one described in the story above. I do know that if it happened today there would be a lot of “dark” places in the church. I don’t necessarily mean in the church building itself. I mean in the church as a whole: the church that Jesus said He would build, against which the “gates of hell would not prevail”. (Matthew 16:18) When we choose to not let our light shine before all, we darken a little bit of God’s kingdom.

What kind of church member are you? Are you completely satisfied just sitting in the pew Sunday after Sunday, being “spoon-fed” the Gospel? Are you doing all that you can to ensure that the message of Christ is lived out in your life both inside the walls of our church and out in the community? What if every single member of Edgefield First Baptist served our church, attended our church, loved our church, shared our church, and gave to our church exactly as you do? What kind of church would this be?

I believe that God is blessing our church right now because of the faith and courage of some. However, what would happen if everyone became engaged and impassioned about the work of God’s Kingdom? It starts with you. Will you be obedient to Him and light your space in this church and in His kingdom?

“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)

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