So far in this series on “Shine” we have looked at our main verse, which is Jesus’ command to his followers that we shine with good works so others will see and give glory to the Father.
A number of personalities in the Bible had their faces light-up in this way – Moses, the angel at Jesus’ empty tomb, Stephen, the first martyr, and certainly Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Philip the Evangelist had a life that shined consistently showing God’s love to all.
Then, several weeks ago we covered what it was like to be a Flashlight Christian as we reaffirmed our baptism; we walk wet, inviting the Holy Spirit to use our baptismal vows to transform the way we live so we can shine God’s light on what Christ-like living looks like.
Today we want to prepare for the Lord’s Supper by doing what Paul suggests:
…you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 1 Corinthians 11:28(NLT)
We examine our walk with Christ to see if we have sins to confess. If we are to follow through on Christ’s command to shine, it makes sense that there should be no short-circuits (sins) that will turn off our light.
This is a New Testament commentary on our verse in Proverbs; shining the flashlight of holiness on our own lives is a matter of confronting what we think of ourselves with absolute truth. You’re familiar with the saying: to thine own self be true; that means be honest when you examine you!
When truth is somehow diminished it becomes the downfall of any life.
· It was that way for King David as he failed to face the truth of his downward moral spiral with Bathsheba
· It was that way for Judas who tried to tie a silk bow on his motive in betraying Jesus
· It was that way for the Pharisees who loved their position as leaders in Israel more than the God of Israel
· It was that way for Lucifer who couldn’t deal with the truth that he was created, and God was the Creator!
A wonderful illustration of the imperative need of truth is in the 1992 movie, A Few Good Men, starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. Nicholson is Marine colonel Nathan Jessup in command of Guantanamo Bay. One of his soldiers dies after being unlawfully disciplined by Jessup’s order, and Navy lawyer Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is sent to investigate.
The courtroom drama involves Jessup being cross-examined by Kaffee, who is trying to get Jessup to admit that he ordered a code-red – an expressly-forbidden, barbaric form of punishment that caused the death of the soldier. Kaffee shrewdly backs the colonel into a corner that would prove his guilt, and brings him to the brink of his patience.
The colonel screams back: The Truth? You can’t handle the truth!
The whole point of this confrontation is that Jessup has been living way too long with the heavy weight of the responsibility for keeping his soldiers and his country safe. The mounting pressure has driven him to forsake the truth in order to accomplish his mission. He has placed his choices above the weightier measure of the law, and has become god in his own mind. And, when the truth is revealed, Jessup’s kingdom crumbles in an instant!
And that’s what this table is all about.
Listen to Jesus explain it to Nicodemus:
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. John 14:6a(NLT)
If there is anything in the world that can short-circuit your light shining it is right here at this table where we celebrate and receive grace from the one who IS truth. And that is because we are in the same position as Colonel Jessup when we approach the table without confessing that we are not God; it is God who died for our sins and bids us come anyway.
The accuser (Satan) would, like the lawyer in the movie, push us into the corner of our guilt and shame – you’re a sinner; I demand the truth. The normal response would be, like Colonel Jessup, to deny it, excuse it, or place yourself above all that.
Oh, I’m as good as that guy.
Well…that’s your view of how it works.
I’m not into all that religious stuff.
But none of that is the truth, and the writer of Proverbs said that lies are soon enough exposed…and shrivel-up in due time.
The truth, which is going to stand the test of time, is that we are all created by God, and therefore accountable to Him for our sins.
The Gospel of grace says no less: we are sinners and deserve Hell, but God made the blood of Christ on the cross our forgiveness. And the greatest shine that will ever speak the truth to anyone is when you, who have been so in-charge of your life and destiny, and have realized that you have been as wrong as a Marine Colonel killing his own soldier, admit the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and you have laid your life at His mercy.
And so here’s the choice – grace or stay in charge.
Choosing to stay in charge means nothing is going to change – now or forever – you will be in charge. Even when it comes time to be lowered into the grave, your choice will stand. You will have no help then because you chose to be dead.
But choosing grace means Christ is in charge – now and forever. And if you will serve the One who is the way, truth and life, it will stay that way. You chose to be alive…and He will see to it by the power of His grace.