Updated: Oct 12, 2021
A CALL AWAY FROM ISOLATIONISM: Exploring Matthew 5:14-16
In the previous post we discussed some of the basic understanding to lay a good foundation for the frequently used Biblical metaphor of "light."
Light is representative of holiness, righteousness, and truth.
Truth can only come from God, He is the only source of the light of truth. This truth is made known in YHVH's instructions or Torah.
The Torah then becomes the path by which we understand righteousness and holiness and how to walk in them. It points us not only to those truths, but the truth of the Messiah and His ultimate mission, reconciliation and atonement.
Being a City on a Hill will come at a cost. It will costs those who follow any version of "truth" they currently holds that does not come into alignment with the light of truth in YHVH's Word. In addition, it will cost every kingdom and man-made success built upon their own effort and skill. The light does not shine for its own glory, but the glory of YHVH.
Once we commit to a life on the hill or on the stand and we willingly relinquish our own glory and truths for the eternal wonder of YHVH, it remains eternally true that those in darkness will not always joyously accept the light we offer. Those who reject that light do not often slink off into the shadows never to be seen again, instead they launch a violent assault against the thing that threatens to expose their even deeds...you. The reality that cannot be ignored as we commit to a life of holiness and truth is suffering is not only to be expected it is all but guaranteed. To make matters worse, we cannot choose to put down the light, crawl down into the valley, exact our vengeance, and then resume our post atop the hill. NO. In fact, the Bible tells us our response is one of love and forgiveness, defending and preserving the light of YHVH at all personal cost.
Are you ready?
A SERVANT IS NOT GREATER THAN HIS MASTER:
Unfortunately, a huge amount of misled "believers" are under the impression once you are "saved" and you have the Savior "living in your heart" then all things are smiles, sunshine, and rainbows. The critical nature of this error inevitably leads to scores of people who after suffering in some form or fashion become disenfranchised with their "Savior" and leave the faith. We should not accept this outcome, because the truth is far more amazing than the muck being peddled from pulpits around the world. The real truth, from the real Messiah, is this, the world will hate you, but there is hope.
John 15:18-25 HCSB 18 “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. 20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin. Now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 The one who hates Me also hates My Father. 24 If I had not done the works among them that no one else has done, they would not have sin. Now they have seen and hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened so that the statement written in their scripture might be fulfilled: They hated Me for no reason."
While it is understandable you may not consider this message all that hopeful, if we truly understand what Yeshua is saying here, it should stir fountains of hope within us. Yeshua tells His disciples that the world hates them, not because they are repulsive people, but because they remind others of their Master. It is the "Him" they see in His disciples that conjures up that enmity within those of the darkness.
Luke 6:39-40 esv
"39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher"
Here's the deal, if we truly are set apart, a city on a hill, and a light on its stand as Yeshua says in Matthew, then naturally we are set apart, or holy, as He is holy from everything else that is of the darkness. The closer we draw to the light, and the brighter that light is shown in our lives, the more the darkness will be repulsed by the exposure. As Yeshua says, it's not actually us they hate, it's Him, so when they loath us, we can rejoice knowing we are drawing closer to the Master and journeying further from the darkness. After all, if we were like them, there would be no reason for animosity. Yeshua refers to this in verse 19.
John 15:19 HCSB
"19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you."
Luke 6:26 esv
"Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets."
Therefore, the outward evidence from those in darkness which testifies most fiercely to the truth of our faith in YHVH is how the world treats us accordingly. If the world loves you...chances are you are enough like them they are not repulsed by your presence. However, that same world who loves their own, refuse to accept those who are in the light, and it is there we can truly find hope, joy, and peace because we know it signals our intimacy with the Father of lights. So, rejoice then when you face persecution or hatred because of your sincere faith in the Master.
Don't get me wrong, this is not a license to intentionally run around offending everyone you possibly can, but when innocent, there is great assurance knowing we remain distinguishably separate from the works of darkness. If that one reassurance isn't enough, YHVH offers hope and encouragement to persevere by blessing those who suffer and are hated because we stand with Him in the light. In Matthew 10 Yeshua is exhorting the twelve before sending them out to minister, there He lays out how and what they will suffer (v.16-25). Squeezed into the text is a short little line that should speak volumes about the Father's love for those who follow Him into the light.
Matthew 10:22 esv
"and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved."
He spends an enormous amount of time telling them how and what they will suffer, and just one little short line about the assurance they have to persevere until the end, they will be saved. Wow! The modern church has this backwards, declaring "blessings, blessings, blessings to all the disciples!" Yet the message of the Messiah starkly contrasts this kind of preaching by preparing His disciples for battle, equipping them in the spirit, and exhorting them to persevere. Can you imagine what the results if Yeshua had delivered one of these pervasive power pep-talks to His disciples before He sent them out?
"You got this!"
"Five steps to be loved by everyone!"
"Expect blessings everywhere you go!"
Receiving the pep-talk and after spending some time passing hi-fives around the circle, these men would have walked into the wolves den and been devoured. Yeshua takes the "realists" approach, you know, that one people say is just negative thinking. He tells them exactly what they are going to suffer, so they know exactly what it is they are getting into before they even start. No surprises, no faltering faith, no sunshine and rainbows, just real, hard truth.
Similarly to these twelve, we too are sent to the wolves, are you ready? As a city on a hill, you are not in stealth mode, you are obviously and openly set apart, and while that comes with inherent suffering, it is salted with the light of truth, "those who persevere, will be saved!" There is hope even when surrounded by darkness, walk in the light as He is in the light, and the light will never be overcome by the darkness. Yeshua does not promise deliverance from suffering, but that we will have the boldness to continue through the anguish and salvation awaits us at the end.
The challenging aspect of this hatred and personal suffering comes with one more cost we did not discuss before, the cost of not seeking personal vengeance.
THE COST OF NOT SEEKING PERSONAL VENGEANCE:
Remember in Luke 6 Yeshua says if we are fully trained, we are like our Master, this means we respond to suffering and abuse the way our Master does. Not with vengeance, not with anger or hatred, but with silent, simple, illuminating love. Instead of clouding the remaining portion of this post with my thoughts and commentary, I will only leave a series of verses which clearly make this point, and my desire is that you will prayerfully petition the Master to train you to be like Him in every way, especially with those who hate you and seek your harm.<