Category Archives: sermonincipiosermo

Flashlights and Shadow Puppets

The following was inspired from my message this last Sunday at Parkview Alliance Church

“This is the message we have heard from him [Jesus] and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7 (NIV)

Have you ever been mesmerized by the artistic and creative stylings of a shadow hand puppeteer…someone who can use a flashlight or fixed light source and manipulate light and shadows to create controlled displays of light and darkness, generating illusions of reality.  A great example of this is found in this shadow puppet genius:

The sad fact is we are all masters of light and darkness manipulation.  God has called us to walk in the light, yet most followers of Jesus are sophisticated at selectively standing in the light.  We create deceptive illusions of reality, in hopes of fooling others, ourselves or, even, God.  We want others to focus on our good parts (the parts filled with light) and tactically hide other parts (the parts filled with darkness), creating an illusion of reality.

This tactic has two distinct flaws to it.  First, we are called to be fully submitted to God, the light, and walk in it, to have Christ fully in our entire lives.  We are called to be in the light (justification) and to walk in the light (sanctification).  We are called to be filled with Holy Spirit, submitting full control and obedience to God in EVERY area of our lives.

Second, when we spend all our energy on “image management” and strategically standing in the light,
we are not able to walk in the freedom Christ offers under the warmth of his light.  We are invited to live fully forgiven lives in the warmth of his forgiveness and freedom.  Yet, when we ignore the darkness in our hearts and pretend it doesn’t exist, we end up crumpled and confined by fear.  As a result, we don’t walk in the freedom of the light nor are we able to live in community with others.  If we live our lives stagnantly crumpled in the light, we spend all our time and energy protecting ourselves and, thus, are not able to extend our arms in community’s embrace.

We all struggle with light and darkness manipulation.  We can look at it through the innocent lens of shadow puppets but in the end, it is dark and it is disastrous.  When we live as shadow puppets, it is to our own detriment as we don’t live in the freedom that we have been given in Christ nor do we live in community with others experiencing God’s gift of community.

Step fully into the light of Christ and dance in the warmth of his love, forgiveness and grace.  This is the abundant life Jesus, the Light of the World, offers as we submit to his Spirit, fully abiding in Him.

Can I Get a Witness?

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 

The Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit and led by Jesus (the head of the Church), is called to be Christ’s witness in the world.  To that end, I would suggest that followers of Jesus, individually and collectively, are called to be, at least, three kinds of witnesses:

  • Character Witness – We are called to be Christ’s character witness and, like all character witnesses, we are to share about someone other than ourselves.  We are called to share about Christ – who he is, what he is like, what he has done, etc.   We have, typically, done a poor job at this.  We often err in one of two ways.  First, we like to tell bear witness to our own accomplishments and boast in ourselves rather than Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Second, we like to focus our witness on other people’s failure, sin and mistakes rather than bear witness to Christ.  Too often, the church is known more for what it is against rather than what it is for.  
  • Expert Witness – We are called to be expert witnesses, testifying to what God has done in and through our lives.  We are called to share the story of God at work in us.  We are the experts and we need to bear witness to our family, friends, neighbours and the world.  There are two kinds of temptations in being an expert witness: Perjury (testifying to something that hasn’t happened – bearing false witness) and Hearsay (testifying to something that happened to someone else).  We are called to authenticity in our lives and bear witness accordingly.  We do not have to be afraid of honesty.  The church needs a more honest witness.  Sometimes the story of longing, suffering, and pain is the very witness we are called to bring.  The church needs more honest expert witnesses.
  • Eyewitness – We are called to bear witness to what God is doing all around us.  Leonard Sweet talks about this in his book Nudge, arguing that evangelism is less show and tell and more shut-up and listen.  Therefore, listen to what God is doing and bear witness to it.  Join in to where God has already been working and help people see and act on it.  Furthermore, we are called to be eyewitnesses of beauty and truth wherever and whenever they present themselves.  We need to have eyes to see and ears to hear beauty and truth in our world and draw people’s attention to it.  We love to say that the church is the hands and feet of Jesus, which is true, but she is also his eyes and ears.  She should be constantly on the lookout for beauty and truth and bearing witness to it.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to bear witness to the ends of the earth.  To GO into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19 & Mark 16:15).  Unlike popular belief and practice in North America, the Church is NOT a witness protection agency; rather, it is a witness sending movement, working towards bearing witness to Jesus everywhere.

Jesus is asking: “Can I get a witness?”