Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Type of House Do You Live In?

     My husband and I start our days several times a week with a stroll through our neighborhood.  We may walk for a mile or two along the streets and enjoy the cool, quiet moments of the morning praying, talking, and simply observing nature.  On more than one occasion, I noticed something as we went along that made me sad.  We would see one very neat, well cared for home and next to it would be a house that almost looked abandoned.  The grass was high, the shrubs were out of control and the house looked like it needed serious attention.  In this economy, I can only conclude that the bank may have foreclosed on the home owners or that someone had passed away and the house had been left for relatives to decide how to dispose of it.  However, it was such a glaring difference between the appearance of homes on the same street.  This wasn't an isolated case either.  There are a number of such contrasts throughout the area that we walk.  I thought to myself that certainly a prospective home buyer would never be attracted to a run down, unkempt property compared to the nicely kept home next door.  Then, it struck me.  Isn't this the same kind of distinction that the world should see between believers and unbelievers?
     Jesus spoke these words to the disciples in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew5:13-16):  "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.  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."  These descriptions portray what believers are to be in this dark world in which we live.  We are to be light and salt adding flavor and illuminating the way to live according to the Word of God.  Like the neatly kept homes I walk by, we are to be attractive by reflecting Christ to a hurting, sin-sick world.  There should be a contrast between the way we live and the way unbelievers live just as there is a contrast between well kept homes and abandoned decaying ones.  So what does it mean to be salt and light?
     When our lives are committed to Christ, we have several important tasks.  First, we are His ambassadors to this world.  We are called to tell others the Good News of Jesus Christ, His salvation and His kingdom. (John 17:18; Matt. 24:14).  Our light shines when we reflect this call and serve others in their needs as Christ has served us.  What a difference this makes!  The world does not do this.  However, we must be on guard that we do not fall prey to materialism, the indifference towards God and the pursuit of pleasure or status that drives this society.  We are in this world, but we are not to be of this world.  Our life is a pilgrim's journey as we pass through this world to our home with God.  During our lifespan, then, we are to make a difference by shining for Christ...living a life to His glory in obedience.
Jesus calls us to listen to others, empathize with them, care for them, bind up their wounds, but not to fall into their practices.  Instead, we are to use our opportunities of service to demonstrate His love and be able to share our faith that those lost in sin may hear about the Savior.
     Jesus also told us to be salt in this world.  One of the properties of salt is as a preservative.  As believers, we are to hinder the corruption of this world.  Our lives need to demonstrate morality, good stewardship of our resources and the earth's resources, as well as love for our neighbor.  Deeds of mercy and kindness do not go unnoticed when done with a heart full of God's love.  In addition, we have the opportunity to demonstrate a good "work ethic" which further demonstrates our desire to fulfill God's call on our lives.  It is definitely a good witness to others when we perform on the job not to please men but to please God.  This definitely stands out and brings glory to the Lord.  We can transform our culture around us by living for Christ in all that we do.
     Our job is to illuminate our world and to be the salt that helps to preserve godly conduct.  The Lord has graciously chosen us unworthy vessels to pour out His blessing of love upon.  Yet, it does not stop there.  We are then, in turn, to carry it to those around us and share His news of salvation.  This is why we are here that we may bloom where He has planted us.
     Somehow, God always seems to speak to my heart through analogies and I could not help but see the tremendous contrast between the houses that were well kept and those that were left to decay.  Our world is like that.  We must be living in a house fully dedicated to Christ so that our light may shine brightly.  People will notice, and they will ask what makes us so different.  This is when we have the privilege of telling them about a Savior who offers us a new life of forgiveness from our sins.  Lets get busy and look at our lives and remove anything that keeps us from shining brightly or being salt in this hurting world of ours.  Selah!

What areas has God called you to work on?  I welcome your insights and words of encouragement.  Please feel free to leave them here.


Petra said...

Another good analogy! We live in a modest and imperfect house, but trust that God will help us to keep it from looking abandoned and run-down. And we know that Christ has gone to prepare a 'better' place for us, so that we can remain content, trusting, and grateful with what we have, even if it doesn't win a neighborhood award. :-)

Barbara Thayer said...

Amen Petra. God has the perfect house for us in heaven....but while on earth...we do our best to keep our home as a shining beacon for His glory. I do seem to write in analogies all the time. Guess that is just the way the Lord speaks to me. Thanks for your insights and comments as always!! Blessings my friend!

Anonymous said...

Houses are so interesting! I love to walk through the older streets of the city I live in, and see all the neat old styles of houses. It makes me sad to see some of them get so run-down, or be knocked down for square apartment blocks.
But to get back to your analogy... you're right, the difference should be obvious. I hope and pray that it is in my life.

Barbara Thayer said...

I, too, love to look at houses Harma Mae. And yes, it saddens me to know that houses are abandoned or rundown and no one seems to care for them. I just couldn't help but make the comparison to how well we take care of our house in which the Lord dwells. My prayer is that people can see Christ in me and not a poor example from my life. Thanks for always stopping by.