Showing items filed under “Jeremy Shirley”
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    Recently much has been made of Facebook’s massive information leak because of a personality quiz that many utilized on Facebook.  This information leak led to some 87 million people, mostly those of us here in America, having our personal information shared with an outside company based in Europe called Cambridge Analytica.  It’s spawned a whole new round of discussions about privacy settings and the information we put out on the internet.   

    People’s choices about privacy settings, what they’re willing to share or not share on the internet vary widely.  We probably all have a friend who uses a pseudonym or only a portion on their name on social media while others are open books with everything being shared with the entire world from what breakfast cereal you’re eating to where you’re vacationing.  I’m not really here to debate or make a case for how you share or don’t share personal information on social media.  I see the pros and cons of both sides.  What I do want us to think about is, we all have privacy settings….not just on social media.  Each one of us makes choices every single day about what our daily privacy settings will be.  The decision you make about who you talk to, how much you share with them, where you go, whether to put clothes on before putting your trash cans out by the street etc.  Everyone really appreciates your decision to put clothes on before going outside!        

    Obviously there are some things that it’s important we keep in private….our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives is not one of them.  On Facebook I can choose to share with Public (Everyone in the world), Friends, Certain Friends, or Only Me.  While I wish some people would raise their privacy settings on political views, medical issues or other things I just don’t need to know….we’d be wise to lower our privacy settings on how we share our faith and represent Christ in our lives. 

    There are multiple places in the Bible where it speaks to our privacy settings as it relates to our faith in Christ….one of the illustrations used multiple times in scripture if that of light.  In Matthew 5:14-16 it says: 

“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. 

    The illustration by itself speaks to how little privacy we should have when it comes to our faith in Christ.  Light exposes things, shows things clearly and illuminates things for what they are.  There is no privacy in the light.  Here’s some things we need to think through as we think about our life privacy settings as it relates to being the light: 

  1. Light invades darkness: Go into a dark room, turn on the lights….light goes everywhere that it’s not blocked within that room.  As we go into our neighborhoods, workplaces, our children’s activities, restaurants…..even other countries….our light needs to invade.  How does light know where it can’t go?  It hits a barrier and then is bounced or reflected off.  We see it as a shadow in areas where light isn’t able to directly penetrate.  Everywhere we go….and I mean everywhere, our light is to be public….no privacy.  We invade the world with the light of the gospel until it comes up against a barrier where it cannot penetrate. 
  2. Light is not meant to be hidden: In that passage above, a lamp is not hidden under a basket, it’s not kept private.  Our faith in Christ is not to be confined to the church building or our homes.  The concept of our faith being private doesn’t reflect the nature of light.  When we’re picking our privacy settings as regards to the light of Christ….it’s not just for me, it’s not just for my select Christian friends or church family, it’s for the public.  Boldly show the light to all.  Light does no good when it’s kept private….when we keep others in the darkness. 
  3. Light draws attention to the source: Some of us don’t like to draw attention to ourselves, hence why we live private lives.  Ultimately as the light Christ, when we choose to put our light on display for all the world to see…it draws attention to the source.  At the end of verse 16 it talks about how it brings glory to God.  You boldly show the light of Christ to the world because God deserves attention, not because you deserve it.  When we hide the light, it’s hard to determine the source of the light.  No one is confused by where our source of daylight comes from.  The Sun is the obvious source.  In the same way, the light that shines through us makes it obvious that God is the source.  Don’t keep it private, that just makes it difficult for others to see the source. 

    Each day we make a choice about what level of privacy we will live our life with.  Some days we avoid people, avoid interaction, avoid being uncomfortable, avoid meeting new people…..we choose to keep our privacy settings high…very high.  We hide the light deep within our homes and churches.  If in a short time a company can leak our personal information for 87 million people all because of a personality test…what would happen if Christians lowered their life privacy settings and let the whole public see the light of Christ?  While it might be wise to keep your information private on social media, let’s keep our faith very public for all to see! 

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We go to great lengths to make sure the church looks good.  While no one else is looking we make sure that when others see the church, they see something that’s nice, well maintained, clean, and orderly.  It’s no different from our own homes, if you have family coming over soon for a Christmas celebration, you’re likely already working hard on that to-do-list.  Knocking out projects, decorating the house, cleaning, and making sure the areas that others will see look just right.  We know no one will be in our bedroom, closets or that basement storage room so all the unsightly things get piled there.  We’d be so embarrassed if others saw our mess. 

Back to the church….I’m not making an argument that we shouldn’t clean and maintain the building….this actually has nothing to do with the building.  It has nothing to do with the great job the men and women who work behind the scenes to prep our building for events and Worship.  It doesn’t even have anything to do with reverence in worship.  It has everything to do with what the church actually is….the people.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging you to come in your Sunday “Worst”; this has little to do with how you dress, how you groom yourselves or anything else like that.   

In Sunday School, we’ve just started back on our study of Acts.  When I study Scripture, my mind tends to wander towards imagining what things were really like, the perspective of those at that time.  For me in Acts, the question I think through is what it would have been like to be a part of the early church.  Based on the way things happened…and happened quickly…I have to imagine that the early church was a complete and total mess.  Can you imagine what the early church was like in the weeks and months following the addition of 3000 in Acts 2:47….the continued addition of people daily as mentioned in Acts 2:47…the 5000 added in Acts 4:4…the multitudes added in Acts 5:12.  Can you imagine the mess that the early church was?  I’m not talking organizationally….although that was lacking as well considering as we see in Acts 14:23, Paul and Barnabas were appointing elders in every church.   

Think about this for a minute…while we are new creations in Christ when we start our relationship with Christ….that doesn’t mean all of the sudden we’re sin free does it?  We continue to work through our salvation day by day…sometimes taking big steps forward….sometimes small steps.  So what I’m getting at is the early church had to be full of people who were recent converts or new creations as well as those they knew that through the spread of the gospel were there to see what was going on.  You’re talking about people who by in large probably didn’t know the right way to act in church….probably didn’t know the right way to respond to teaching…..probably didn’t know how to respect the elders of the church….probably didn’t say all the right things or avoid using all the “bad words”.  It just had to be a mess.  When you think about it, even those that the Spirit was putting in positions of leadership within the body were relatively new believers.  If we have no better example, consider Peter.  He spent roughly 3 years with Christ…then when Jesus was to be crucified….Peter in all of his spiritual maturity was denying Christ…..and post resurrection, it’s only a short time before Christ set Peter on the path to be one of the most important leaders in the early church.   

Here’s what I’m getting at…I think we may have a picture of the church as properly functioning when the people come, they dress the right way, they behave the right way, they respect everyone, and are all growing in their relationship with Christ just like we are.  While that’s a nice idea, I think that might be more our spiritual immaturity coming out than our maturity.  The church should be a mess.  It should be in a constant state of transition as new believers come in, lost people are present seeking answers from God and people are working out their salvation.   

If our Sunday School groups, our Worship services, our Bible Studies, and Events look like your clean house right before the relatives comes over….I think we’re missing something.  Where’s the clutter?  Where’s the mess?  Where is the genuineness of our lives being a mess?  Where are the new believers?  Where are the lost?   

As we approach 2018, how about we mess up the place?  Please don’t spill your coffee on the carpet…but how about you and I grow in spiritual maturity by making the church a mess, instead of trying to cultivate a clean environment that appeals to our own selfishness, let’s mess up the place and engage new believers, share the gospel with the lost and bring the seekers into the church.  Let’s channel our inner early church, the Holy Spirit, and make a mess as big as Christmas morning! 

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