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Responsibilities of the Church 16: Be a Light in the Community

Responsibilities of the Church Day 16 – Be a Light in the Community

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16, ESV)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9, ESV)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, ESV)

Many years ago, my brother’s friend from up north came down to visit us in North Carolina. While he was here, we all hopped in the family van and headed to church. As we drove through our neighborhood my dad waved at the people walking down the road. After a few waves my brother’s friend turned and said, “Do you guys know all these people?” I said, “No, why?” to which he responded, “So then why does your dad keep waving at them?” I couldn’t help but laugh. I had never really put much thought into the action, but had always made a point of waving at neighbors as they walked or drove by me. However, as he was from the north, this practice may have seemed a little odd to him. Even now, I catch myself waving when visiting family in New Jersey, which typically yields confused looks, and I am reminded how different communities can be. Why do we wave? Because it’s polite and welcoming. It’s a simple gesture that causes people to feel seen and cared for, even if for a moment. It may seem silly to some, but even this act speaks to one’s community.

The local church is meant to be a lampstand, a shining beacon of God’s light to the world. We are meant to show our community the very love we have been shown by Christ.  While we may not have a personal relationship with everyone or even be acquaintances, whenever we are out in the community people see us and take note, especially if they see us often. I think of grocery store cashiers, doctors, hair stylists, plumbers, baristas, and waitresses. We interact with these people more than a few times and some rather frequently. Even these small interactions are opportunities for us to be a light. Keep in mind that you are representing not only God but your local church when you are out in the community. If the Walmart cashier randomly decided to show up to your local church and saw you among the members, would they second guess staying or would they feel comfortable? 

Often when we think of community, we think of our next-door neighbors or the waiter at our favorite restaurant, but community is so much more than that. Think of people among whom Christ was frequently found: tax collectors, people with disabilities, widows, lepers, homeless people, outcasts. He purposefully put Himself at the center of crowds full of the people that society deemed worthless because they were the most likely to listen Him. What are we doing for the outcasts of our community? Social justice and charity should start with the church. We are called to support the orphans and widows. We are meant to share the blessings of God with those who need it most. We should be known in our community for being a support for the downtrodden and a light in the darkest of places.

My challenge for you today is to reflect on your presence in your community. Are you representing Christ when you interact with the barista at your local coffee shop? Are you sharing your blessings with the community? Are you connecting with the outcasts? All of these interactions are opportunities to share the gospel, so we must be present in our community and be His light.

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