Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sermon preview--Glory

I want you to imagine a tribe of people who live their lives in total darkness. Imagine that sometime long ago, this group was so fearful and primitive, they went into a dense forest to escape their enemies. They went deep into the forest, where the trees were so tall and thick, they virtually blocked out the sun. They stayed there so long, their eyes adjusted to the darkness and they built a village in which to live. They stayed there so long, they forgot how to get out. And they were so full of fear, and unwilling to admit they were lost, they told their children that the whole world was dark and cold and damp, like that village in the forest. And so after a few generations, no one was still alive who had ever seen the sun. But an interesting thing happened. There were still people who believed in light. They would say, “There must be light somewhere. How else would all these trees grow? Sometimes when I look up into the trees, I think I catch a glimpse of it. I believe in something beyond this forest. I believe in the sun.” These people were ridiculed, persecuted and sometimes killed for their beliefs, but the leaders of the village could never quite stamp this heresy out.

One day, a small group of these heretics decided to do what no one had ever done before; they would leave the village and go seeking the light. The more they walked, the more light they saw, and so they kept going. Eventually, they came stumbling out of the forest and into a light so blinding, it took hours for their eyes to adjust. Once they did, they saw things so amazing, colors so beautiful, they never wanted to go back. But they knew they had to return and tell the rest of the village about it. And so they did. They came back to the village and resumed life as before, with only two changes: First, every day, they would leave the village and spend some time in the light. Somehow, that made living in the darkness bearable. They wondered how they had ever lived without the light. And second, they began talking about the light, unafraid of what others might think. At first, people didn’t believe their story. But then some began to notice that these people were different since they had left the village. They didn’t just talk about the light; they seemed to bring it with them. Whenever they were around, things seemed brighter, warmer than before. And so, one by one, others started joining them on their daily trips into the light. There were still many who scoffed, and some who threatened violence, but more and more people were coming into the light. That village was slowly transformed, not because some people believed in light or had seen the light, but because they brought the light back with them.

You’ve probably figured this out on your own, but in that parable, the forest represents the world, the sun represents God, and the darkness represents the way things are now, where most of humanity is separated from God. Wouldn’t it be great if we could be the people who found the light and brought it back with us? That is actually what Scripture commands us to do. If you’ve ever wondered what your purpose in life is, let me tell you. As followers of Jesus, our purpose in life is to reflect the light of God’s glory to a world lost in darkness. What does that mean? How do we do it? We’ll take a quick survey of two chapters you’ll read next week in your Bible reading (Exodus 33-34), and then jump over to a passage in the New Testament that explains those two chapters (2 Corinthians 3:7-18). That’s a lot of ground to cover in one Sunday sermon, but since we’re talking about the purpose of our lives, I’d say it’s worth it!

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