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Let Your Light Shine, Part 2


Going through old files, we discovered this article (written on December 24, 2006) which never made it up on our web site.
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The following article is prompted by things that have been discussed on our forum over recent weeks.
 
There is a thread called "Let Your Light Shine" on our forum which deals with the command from Jesus to let our light shine, at the same time that he specifically tells us to hide certain good works (prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in particular).  There is some debate on that thread about exactly what it is that we are supposed to be doing publicly, if these other things are supposed to be done secretly.
 
Some people have noted that there are many ways in which a Christian's "light" shines to those around them besides engineering things so that others will be able to observe us praying, fasting, or giving to the poor.  Our whole life should manifest love, humility, sincerity, and faith.  And when people see these things, they will be led to "glorify our Father who is in heaven" more than they glorify us.
 
However, the context of the passage about letting our light shine may also be significant.  Here it is, from Matthew 5:10-16:
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you, when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.  You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt has lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?  It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men.  You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
 
The context here is that Jesus is discussing persecution.  (Although it could also be taken to include comments in relation to ALL of the beatitudes.)   To shorten it, he is saying, "Blessed are you, when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake... You are the light of the world... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
 
The funny thing we have found about persecution, is that persecutors absolutely go crazy if anyone points out that they (the persecutors) are actually persecuting someone.  Earlier this year, Reinhard suffered life-threatening injuries as a result of a crazed attack by a violent family of a young man who later joined the Jesus Christians.  Obviously that amounts to persecution.  But there were people even then who were freaking out that we should even suggest that it amounted to persecution.  These were just loving parents, doing their duty, and, after all, we had brought it all on ourselves by influencing their son to see things differently to the way his parents saw them.  Our forum has been flooded with letters of support for the family, even though the police themselves have pressed charges against them for their vicious assault.
 
Now, over the last month or so (on our forum) there has been a barrage of lies levelled against the Jesus Christians community, mainly from bitter ex-members.  Accusations that we encourage pedophilia, that one of our members sexually assaulted a child who was living in the community, and that I personally was involved in a robbery which actually involved two ex-members.  Lies?  Yes, definitely.  Persecution?  Yes, definitely.  They are saying "all manner of evil against us falsely", and the most important bit is this one: "for Christ's sake".  It is precisely because we have so definitely aligned ourselves with the teachings of Jesus that this persecution is happening.  It is because we have tried so hard to let those beatitudes become the cornerstone for our faith, that this persecution is happening.  It is because the people persecuting us have rejected the teachings of Jesus that they have such strong hatred toward us.
 
Please note that if we really were encouraging pedophilia, we might be inclined to say that we were being persecuted too; but what has happened on our forum is that each time we have pushed for evidence, the evidence produced has shown exactly the opposite, and even the persons who first started the lies have had to change their story or shut up altogether... at least on the first lie.  (Some, however, have gone on to create new ones, as further evidence of their hatred.  Sooner or later we are NOT going to have evidence to disprove their claims, but we want to make it clear now that they have been shown to be wrong with these first lies so that when they say that we eat babies for breakfast and we don't have irrefutable evidence that it is a lie, people will be less inclined to believe them.)
 
Is our light shining?  Not perfectly, but it is shining.  And the amazing thing is that their persecution is actually part of it.
 
One of our members who has not had much to say on the forum confided in me this week, that he is afraid to post anything because he fears that it will be torn to shreds by the hateful critics who have been abounding on the forum lately.  But he said that he had decided to change his behaviour in response to the passage about rejoicing when we are persecuted.
 
Some people call it a persecution complex, and others say that we are just looking for publicity.  But what it really is about is the teachings of Jesus.  He said that if we are ashamed of his words, he will be ashamed of us when he returns.  Why would anyone be ashamed of his words?  The answer is that people are ashamed of his words because they ultimately lead to persecution (as he promised) and we don't want to be persecuted.  It goes against our natural grain to "rejoice" when we are persecuted, but what Jesus seems to be doing is trying to get us to look on the bright side, which is that the persecution actually serves as evidence that we ARE letting our light shine, that the world DOES see that we have something that they don't have.  It's just a shame that rather than embracing what we have, they react insanely, much as the Pharisees did with Jesus.
 
Obviously, people can be persecuted for all kinds of reasons.  Someone has said that just being persecuted does not make you a Galileo; you also have to be right.  It's a great quote.
 
You only need to observe the persecutors for a while (and our forum has been a good place for people to do that), to see that the accusations keep changing.  As soon as one lie is exposed, another one begins.  Our critics say that they are always right and we are always wrong.  We can do the most innocent things, and those innocent actions become "nefarious" (i.e. "extremely wicked") in the eyes of the critics.  The critics themselves come from many different backgrounds, and yet they each have an immediate attraction to one another, even if they cannot agree on the specifics of what we are doing wrong.  They all have a similar "feeling" about us, and they all tell us that the other critics are making perfect sense to them, even when the other critics are shown to be spewing out absolute lies and irrational attacks.
 
All of this validates our claim that the persecution is not really coming because of some substantial wrong on our part.  On the contrary, it is coming because of some substantial GOOD on our part.  Praise God!  We ARE being persecuted for righteousness' sake.  Whether or not it is politically correct to praise God for such a thing, we are going to do it.
 
Cherry wrote an article with the same title as this one, and it was about positive thinking, about polishing up "that of God" that is in each of us.  But this is the other side of the coin.  As we really do get closer to God, and as that of God begins to shine forth from us, there is going to be a different sort of a light that comes, which may actually be symbolised by those saints who were burned at the stake for their faith in days gone by.
 
It's coming, Friends, and we need to see it as an inseparable part of our decision to follow Christ.  In the end, he said that he would cause divisions between us and everyone else who is in opposition to him.  In these dark days, that is going to include almost everyone.  But we can rejoice, "for so persecuted the prophets which were before you," and we can rejoice because "great is our reward in heaven."  Our rejoicing in itself is going to anger them further, but it will all hasten the day of His returning.  Burn, brothers, burn!

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