‘No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.’
The first part of this passage seems straightforward with its strong message about mission: once you’ve discovered the love of Jesus, you cannot hide it – love will shine from you. In fact, love will shine so brightly that there will be no secrets, no dark corners…therefore, other people will understand. In other words, we ought to lead our lives in such a way that other people see that light shining within us and think to themselves ‘I’d like some…’.
Simple! This is the heart of missional discipleship.
Yet, there’s a second section (verse 18), which is easily overlooked.
In yesterday’s passage, Jesus explained about good soil that will “bear fruit with patience and endurance.” Still talking to his friends, he continues that explanation with the important analogy of the lamp on the lamp stand, and then what he says is crucial: “Pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given…”.
Jesus is saying that responsibility lies with the listener. How we listen to Bible stories is key. Our response will shape our discipleship. Thinking, studying and wrestling with the message will mean we have more to share. If we don’t respond, we’re unlikely to understand, will have little to share, and eventually, all will be lost, and the light will go out.
It’s a big challenge to church in the time-poor busyness of the 21st century. Disciples must shine so that everyone can ‘see the light’, and to shine brightly, we need to keep learning. That’s what Jesus meant by “bear fruit with patience…”
Engaging with the message from worship leaders is a good start! Talk about what has been said in your worship gathering. Check it out when you get home. Try to attend a few discussion groups or Bible studies.
Let’s keep learning, put those lamps on the lamp stands and shine brightly!
Lord, Help us to set aside time in our busy lives to learn more about your love, to think and wrestle with the familiar stories.
Help us to face the challenge of being disciples in the 21st century.
May your love shine through everything we do for all to see and share. Amen
Linda Rayner is an elder at Bramhall URC and URC Coordinator for Fresh Expressions of Church.