A Visible Faith
Today we will be continuing in John Wesley’s fourth discourse on the Sermon on the Mount looking at the second of the discourse where John Wesley describes how we are the light from Matthew 5:13-16 . If you want to read the full discourse it is found here: Upon our Lord's Sermon on the Mount IV
And, First, it is impossible for any that have it, to conceal the religion of Jesus Christ. This our Lord makes plain beyond all contradiction, by a two-fold comparison: "Ye are the light of the world: A city set upon an hill cannot be hid." Ye Christians "are the light of the world," with regard both to your tempers and actions. Your holiness makes you as conspicuous as the sun in the midst of heaven. As ye cannot go out of the world, so neither can ye stay in it without appearing to all mankind. Ye may not flee from men; and while ye are among them, it is impossible to hide your lowliness and meekness, and those other dispositions whereby ye aspire to be perfect as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Love cannot be hid any more than light; and least of all, when it shines forth in action, when ye exercise yourselves in the labour of love, in beneficence of every kind. As well may men think to hide a city, as to hide a Christian; yea, as well may they conceal a city set upon a hill, as a holy, zealous, active lover of God and man. (II.2)
In the first section Wesley makes the point that our Christian faith is a social religion in which we are called to be the salt, to be present with both believers and unbelievers helping bring forth the kingdom of God to those around us. Wesley in the second section of his sermon states that Christians faith can never remain silent but be as visible, bright and undeniable as the sun in the sky. Our “tempers and actions” are to Wesley the light of Christ we share with the world. Faith is seen in our verbal attitude and words with others as well as nonverbal actions. If we have the religion of Jesus Christ, the faith of Christ as our savoir, then our entire lives are both a voluntary and involuntary witness to the love and grace we find in him. To Wesley, Christianity cannot be a private religion or a religion that is only practiced at home. The love of Jesus transforms our attitudes, words, behaviors, and actions in such a way that our everyday lives become a witness for Christ’s love. We become a city, a light, on the hill. We may not be trying to “evangelize” and yet our everyday life is a witness to Christ and a call for those around us to find the light for themselves. .
Thus hath God in all ages spoken to the world, not only by precept, but by example also. He hath "not left himself without witness," in any nation where the sound of the gospel hath gone forth, without a few who testified his truth by their lives as well as their words. These have been "as lights shining in a dark place." And from time to time they have been the means of enlightening some, of preserving a remnant, a little seed which was "counted unto the Lord for a generation." They have led a few poor sheep out of the darkness of the world, and guided their feet into the way of peace. (II.6)
Faith in Jesus not only gives forgiveness in love and grace but also equips the transformed believers to be witnesses of the love and grace. Where ever we go we take the gospel of Christ with us and thus shine forth light into the darkness. This is God’s design and why Wesley understands the Christian faith as a social faith. To love and follow Christ is to be a living witness to that love and grace.
As we look at the scripture and Wesley’s thoughts for us today, I believe the questions for us are:
Am I aware of what my “tempers” or attitude is reflecting to others?
Is there something you need to improve on so your “tempers” reflect Jesus?
How does my life give witness to God’s love and grace I find in Jesus?