Sermon in a nutshell: “Light the lamp” (Leviticus 24: 1-4)
We light the lamp to show that God protects us all the time.
When we go into a church, sometimes we can see the “eternal light.” Most churches light the candles for the worship services. This lighting of candles has a long tradition. In Leviticus, priests were commanded to light lamps and keep it burning. This shows that God’s love and power never ends. The light shows that even at night God neither slumbers nor sleeps to protect the people of God. Lighting of lamp has its root in the pillar of fire and pillar of cloud. God protected people in the wilderness with the pillar of cloud during the day time from the scorching heat of the sun and with the pillar of fire during the night time from the coldness of the desert. Priests kept reminding people of God’s presence with us.
We have to provide the oil to light the lamp!
However, we also have to bring oil to keep the light burning. The Bible says, “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of beaten olives for the lamp, that a light may be kept burning regularly.” It has to be pure oil of beaten olives. To make sure that God is among us, we have to bring pure oil of beaten olives.
Purity and sacrifice are two requirements here. When we bring offering or serve people, we have to have purity in our motive. We should not give offering to have more influence in our community. Companies donate money to communities for their brand marketing. It is fine because the purpose of a community is different. We are non-profit organizations. None of us give offering for brand marketing or for face saving. Lobbyists donate money to exercise influence on policies. That is their jobs. However, we should not give offering to exercise influence on church ministries. We give offering as our expression of our love for God and people.
When we give offering, we give honest money only. It has to be from beaten olives. That is why churches do not accept one tenth of the lotto prize. Churches do not accept any money earned illegally. When people earn gambling money, they should not give it to church. Only the income that comes from company is to create profit. Companies will do whatever it takes to make money. However, our faith
the sweat and labor of the people will be accepted. Offering money should be the fruits of honest living.
Jesus called us the light of the world!
Jesus called us both light and salt of the world. Jesus taught us two ways to glorify God’s name. Salt glorify God through sacrifice. Salt has to be melted and disappear to do its proper work. However, light should be shown to glorify God. Nobody lights a lamp and puts it under the bushel basket. People should know what we do and why we do such actions like Bike-A-Ton, Rummage Sale, Homeless Shelter Meal, North Korean Aids Work, Imagine No Malaria, UMCOR, or World Mission.
Many humble Christians love to do work behind the scene. They sometimes feel that advertising the name of churches is against the teachings of the Bible. They do not want to show off or brag about their mission and ministry works. However, that is the half of the biblical truth. We have to tell the world that we are doing our mission and ministry to show God’s love in practical ways. We also want to do it continuously. In this way, we can keep the light burning to show God’s presence among us.
- What would be the “oil” that you can bring to God this year?
- When did you experience God’s presence among us this year?