• Pastor Steven Neill (ILT)

Stand Out, Stand Out for Jesus...

We live in a world today where every person seems to want to stand up for their rights. Whoever shouts the loudest is heard and gets their way.

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are sometimes marginalised for holding to our belief that the Bible has been given without error and is the fully inspired and infallible word of God and because we also believe it is the supreme and final authority in all matters of faith and conduct.

We are not called to follow the crowd, due to fear of not being politically correct or misrepresented because we don't share the same excitement about how an individual may wish to express their freedom because it's their so called right.

Instead, we are to hold fast to God's direction on how we navigate through this ever increasing complex world, knowing and trusting that our Creator, Almighty God, has given us His best plan to live in harmony with Himself, each other and our world. Recently, I watched a documentary on TV entitled 'Kill the Christians' which was shown on BBC2 and centred on how Islamic terrorists were murdering Muslims and Christians in the Middle East who would not conform to their brand of Islam. From an old monastery carved in a hillside, looking over the plain of Nineveh, Iraq, where families were taking refuge from this terror, a young girl of 13 told the reporter, “The Christian religion is about love and peace. I feel sad because the devil has taken Islamic State over. I will pray to God to enlighten their mind."

Unable to flee this persecution, this girl had faith to believe God's love could change hearts and minds. We may be of the opinion that we, too, need to stand up for ourselves and shout louder in an ever increasing secular society – one where everyone else is to be heard and allowed a voice, but Christians are side-lined and ignored, having been considered no longer relevant.

Our call is not to “Stand up” but to “Stand out”. We are to live with our true identity as God’s people, allowing our lives to be transformed by Him and displaying the truth that living God’s way works for us as individuals, for our families and can bring positive change to our communities. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us in Matthew chapter 5, verses 13-16 that we are the salt of the earth. The Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 4:6 says: 'Let your speech be always gracious, seasoned with salt.'

In this world where degrading and harmful words are spoken over people's lives to pull them down and bring them under condemnation, and manipulate or rob individuals of their worth and ability, we can be a different voice speaking affirming words that reflect the heart of God for a lost people without a shepherd needing His compassion. It is a fact that salt also preserves. The people Jesus was speaking to when He said these words knew that the salt they used from the Dead Sea worked into their raw food keeping it from corrupting. The inference is, our lifestyle should prove to those we live and work with that living for God makes us happy, fulfilled, at peace, purpose driven and loving life to the full. This faith in God works for us and is not only keeping our lives from decaying and bringing eternal separation from God, but His abiding presence is the source of our joy even when our circumstances may not be all that we would want them to be. We need to live amongst others showing God is at work in us, works for us and can work in their lives too! We are to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Our light is to be on full view, not hidden, but given full exposure. We are to live and walk in the light of Jesus, empowered to reach out to others bringing His light into their lives. In a world of darkness, hopelessness and pain it’s important to carry His light “bringing out the God-colours”.

It may be tempting to use our light to reveal or point out sin in someone’s life, but John 16:8 tells us that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement. Our responsibility is to show the way out of the darkness. So many people struggle believing they fall below God’s standard. What they don't need are Christians who are quick to point out their sin, judging and condemning their actions. Often this only proves to push them deeper into the freely given acceptance of others who continue to miss the mark. We need to be like Jesus in the story of the woman caught in adultery and not join the queue of accusers, but use our light to show the way to the One who can bring people out of their personal darkness. To live with this mandate; to be salt and light, to change this world for the glory of God, rather than being drawn into copying the behaviour and custom of this world, the words of Romans 12 and verse 2 ought to be applied: “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (NLT). Don't STAND UP, STAND OUT!

#StevenNeill #Darkness #Light #Salt #StandOut

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