“You are the light of the world. A town built 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 others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14–16).
In life, we always hear interesting sayings. One of the adages I have always found most interesting is one that some parents say to their children: “Do as I say, not as I do.”
This is essentially communicating, demonstrating and teaching our children to ignore actions. If one ascribes to this parenting style, it makes it difficult to teach children and to lead by example. Furthermore, this approach seems to contradict a wise adage sometimes heard in the church: “I would rather see a sermon than hear a sermon.” This adage’s meaning is in direct opposition to “do what I say, not what I do” and of what we should be communicating to the world as followers and disciples of Jesus Christ.
When people say “do what I say, not what I do,” they are instructing or communicating the other person to ignore and disregard their action, behavior and conduct and only give credence or regard to the words that are said. On the other hand, “I would rather see a sermon than hear a sermon” sends a message that actions and demonstrated teachings are much more important, influential and profoundly persuasive than words that may be empty. As followers and disciples of Christ, we are obligated to act upon Christ’s teachings. Through the demonstration of love, truth, hope, grace, mercy, redemption, forgiveness and salvation, we shine the light of Christ. Through shining the light of Christ, we are fulfilling and achieving the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16–20). Thus, by going out and being fishers of men and women and their hearts and souls, we are leading people to the Great Fisher of men and women and bringing disciples of Christ (Matthew 4:19, Mark 1:17).
As followers and disciples of Christ, the adage of “I would rather see a sermon than hear a sermon” is more aligned with our calling. We must consider how we can demonstrate a sermon that would serve in accomplishing the work of the Great Commission and shining the light of Christ. As in parenting, our example teaches the lessons or illustrates the sermons that are worth seeing, hearing and learning. In giving consideration to how we shine our light, the answer is in how we must demonstrate Christ’s love, kindness, hope, mercy, grace, forgiveness and His message of light, truth and salvation. All of these lessons and sermons of the light of Christ’s message can be demonstrated through limitless and eclectic actions, methods and practices of ministry to the world. A sermon of the true light of Jesus can be seen through kindness, encouraging words and treating others how we would want to be treated. We can be a good neighbor and love our fellow man as we love ourselves. We can show love by being a friend and helping a neighbor or friend in need. We can also be charitable. We can volunteer and serve our neighbors, communities and fellow man. In serving our fellow man, we can give to the poor, feed the hungry, give drinks to the thirsty and provide nourishment to a starving world. We can open our homes and give shelter. We can give care and aid the sick. We can minster by being a friend to the lonely, friendless and brokenhearted. We can give and serve our fellow man and the world by giving them the light, the answer and the true, everlasting, unconditional love of Jesus Christ.
In showing the world a sermon, we are showing and shining our light, which is the light and truth of Christ and His love. His message of truth, love, peace, hope, grace, mercy, redemption, forgiveness and salvation is being given and presented before the world to be seen by all. In being servants to mankind, we are demonstrating what we were called to do and Christ’s love for our fellow man. Through this, we are achieving our calling as disciples of Christ and showing the world the love of Christ.
Christ said the world would know us by how we love and show love. All of these lessons and sermons of the message and light of Christ should not be hidden away but shared and given to all to receive it and come to follow Christ. As believers and disciples of Christ, may we always shine our light and Christ’s light and truth. May we always demonstrate and be an example of Christ’s love to mankind and the world. May we, as disciples of Jesus, exemplify, demonstrate and show the world and mankind a sermon that mankind and the world wants to hear. May that sermon always be of Christ’s light, truth, love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, redemption and salvation.
Michaela S. Cox is a New Hampshire-based writer and the author of “Heartfelt Meditations: A Collection of Poetry Inspired by Cherished Scriptures.”
- Which of the adages (“do as I say, not as I do” and “I would rather see a sermon than hear a sermon”) would nonbelievers in your town apply to the Christians in their lives?
- What changes would Christ’s followers need to make if they want to avoid being hypocritical or viewed that way by nonbelievers?