“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. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
- Matthew 5:14-16
“The doctrine of the inability of the human mind and the need for divine illumination is so fully developed in the New Testament that it is nothing short of astonishing that we should have gone so far astray about the whole thing. …
“Conservative Christians in this day are stumbling over this truth. We need to reexamine the whole thing. We need to learn that truth consists not of correct doctrine, but in correct doctrine plus the inward enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. We must declare again the mystery of wisdom from above. A re-preachment of this vital truth could result in a fresh breath from God upon a stale and suffocating orthodoxy.”
- A. W. Tozer, God’s Pursuit of Man (emphasis is the author’s)
Our church is so blessed to have a pastor who is full of the Holy Spirit and is sound in correct doctrine. So many churches are not that blessed. Some, sadly, do not wish to be.
In any evangelist’s discussion on evangelism and the process toward salvation, he/she will say that you cannot do it on your own, yet, we try. Then, when our efforts fail, we blame God. Tozer is saying in this quote that we must be filled with the Holy Spirit and follow the lead given by the Holy Spirit. We cannot manufacture spirit-filled sermons or Sunday school lessons or Bible studies. God provides His Spirit. All the education in the world will not help if God has not imbued His Spirit within us.
It’s odd. You become a church leader and you attend a few meetings, thinking that you will gain enlightenment. Then you realize that the only enlightenment that was discussed at the meetings was how dark it was in one corner of the sanctuary. People could not read the hymnal, and the property team wanted to know which of two different lighting fixtures made that corner brighter. The property team should have realized that those folks sat in that corner so that they had an excuse to not sing. There was plenty of light. I have come in late, due to the Sunday school discussion running over – a great discussion. I once sat in that dark corner. The people around me had no idea that the service had started. They never stopped talking to one another, never stood when requested, and never slowed down their conversation during the prayer or sermons. They wanted the darkness.
I think that illustrates the issue. Whether it is people in the pews who want to be seen at church, but still love the darkness, or church leaders more interested in light fixtures than in spreading the Word of God, our light, in that church – long ago, was quite dim. The Scripture above says nothing of the source of the energy that produces our light that needs to shine. Jesus just tells us to not hide it under a bowl. God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, is that energy. Without Him, there is no illumination.
By the way, if you light an oil lamp and then place a bowl over it, what happens? The ultimate point in Jesus’ argument is not that you cannot see the light. It is that the light will be snuffed out. To be usable by God, we need to not just have our light shine, but to have it turned on. We need to learn the Voice that talks to us in our quiet moments with God and we need to obey.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.