Friday, June 3, 2011

In Praise of...

I can't imagine having a hot, saucy, extra-cheesy pizza sitting in front of me without eating it. Sausage, pepperoni, maybe onions and mushrooms if I'm splurging! But that's just me. I have a nearly irresistible urge to eat a freshly-made pizza.

Food seems to have an open door policy for many of us. We diet and swear off of many things, but put our favorite foods in front of us and the diet begins anew "tomorrow." Funny people, we are. It's difficult to stop eating something we like so much.

If there's one thing I can learn from a good pizza it is this: if we collectively desired to serve God as fervently as we down our favorite foods, we'd certainly change and things would begin to change around us.

Matthew 5:14-16
"You are the light of the world. A city 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 men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

First, let's frame the discussion: "You are the light of the world." You are the antithesis of the darkness. You are the difference-maker. And why? Because God has desired for you to be placed on a stand - to give light to everyone around you. . Knowing that changes the way I wake up and the way I go about my day. Knowing that changes my mind-set, my thought processes. God has lit a light for all to see. What am I doing with that?

Second, let's consider the goal: ".. and praise your Father in heaven." The ultimate goal is that the world, so impacted by the light would ultimately praise God. The lamp's purpose is to be lit. But a lit lamp in an empty room is useless. The purpose of lighting the lamp doesn't end with giving light - it ends with what the people see once the light is lit.

Third, let's consider the process: "...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds..." Phrased another way: we are imparted with a certain light that dispels darkness whose ultimate goal is bringing praise to God; therefore, we are to do good deeds. We are not to do good deeds so that we get the light, or retain the light, or get a better stand. We are the light, we were placed on a stand. Now, we are to do good deeds. We are to do good deeds with the express intent of bringing praise to our Father in heaven.

Fourth, a question from the passage. The last verse states, "...your Father in heaven." In all the good deed doing, it is nothing if we don't acknowledge and credit our Father in heaven. We will have missed the goal. How do the ones impacted by the light know that there is a Father in heaven? We tell them. We tell them at the beginning, or tell them at the end. We make it overt or quietly tell them when they ask. Each situation is different, but you have to tell them, somehow. Ultimately, those impacted by any good deed we do must see that it is done for and to the praise of God. Don't forget the goal.

For me, the next time I see my favorite food, I'll consider - have I desired to serve God as much?

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