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The Light of the World


[Music] hi everybody thanks for being here it's a great day to be outside and you've chosen to be in here for an hour or so and I think it's a it's a good use of your of your hour for sure my name is C Michael I'm Melea pastor here at Westside and we launched a series last week pastor Evan ear wicker launched our series called I am and we've been looking at we are looking at the seven kind of famous statements that Jesus made about himself and as Evan talked about we know that God is personal because he gave himself a name and it happened with Moses at the burning bush and you can go back and listen to that message if you missed it where God described himself it gave himself a name I am and then Jesus later would use that same phrase to describe who he is and in essence describing who God is the Bible says that Jesus is like the perfect picture of who God is and he uses these I am statements to describe his character his personality what he provides for us as followers of him and so we're looking at this series last week haven't talked about I am the bread of life and today I want to talk about I am the light of the world I want you to imagine life without electricity okay have you ever watched apocalyptic movies that you know something happens and all of a sudden were without electricity imagine life without electricity without light and to help us imagine that just briefly a little bit I wanted to turn off all the lights all cellphones everything I just want as many lights as we can have off in this room let's turn off everything we can even in the darkness of this moment there's still light I mean that's just we live in a some say a light polluted world and I apologize to those that are watching online the only way you can see online is with light so we live in a light just it's everywhere and yet Jesus in the story we're gonna look at today lived in a time where light was scarce matter of fact they would go home they would make sure they arrived in their city and at home before the Sun went down and otherwise it was dangerous and and they won't be able to find their way and and yet I know that it's not too hard for us to imagine living in the dark because most of us have or do its times or seasons in our lives felt alone and isolated and in the dark uncertain about our future depressed anxious even the tragedies that are surrounding our world even this last couple of weeks there's just so much darkness around us you turn the light back on some of you were starting to get nervous and I wanted to run outside into the light so we could to put that back on but Jesus talks says that I am the light of the world and what's interesting to me is the context in which he says that phrase and I want us to look at it we've looked at this story several times in our church it's one of I would say it's one of the core stories that guide our ethos as Christ followers as people who walk after Jesus this story that sets the stage for this statement that Jesus makes about himself and so I'm in John chapter 8 if you want to follow along it's not going to be on the screen so if you want to follow along in your Bible or on your phone you can turn there John 8 verse 1 it says Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives but early the next morning he was back again at the temple and this was kind of a norm for Jesus he would when he ministered in the vicinity of Jerusalem he would often stay at the Mount of Olives with some friends he had there and then he would walk just a couple of miles down to Jerusalem and he would spend his days in the temple teaching and this was the case on this particular morning and a crowd soon gathered as they often did and he set down and taught them and as he was speaking and I want you to put yourself into this story I want you to think about what would this be like if this happened to you and as he was speaking the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery and they put her in front of the crowd put yourself in this woman's shoes and does anybody wonder where the man is in the story like what's going on you know that's just the world they unfortunately and but and this woman was the only one thrust out into the into this in the in this temple in this religious space in front of Jesus in front of this crowd and and they said to Jesus teacher this woman was caught in the act of adultery and the law of Moses says to stone her what do you say and they used this woman's brokenness and her pain to try to leverage getting something out of Jesus that would that would trap him and they were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him but Jesus stooped down in that moment they're accusing him they're saying what are you what do you say that the law says we can stone this woman what do you say instead of answering them he Stoops down and he starts to write in the dust with his finger does it have you ever read the story like what is he writing well I have the answer for you today no I don't have the answer nobody knows it's one of the top 10 questions I want to ask him when I when I see him is like what were you writing anybody like I just like writing I just like drawing you know it was a picture son said and I'm like now there's something else going on here but they kept demanding an answer so he's stupid on writing and just imagines the religious leaders are just like we deserve this she deserves to be stoned what do you say and they keep pressing him and so finally he stands up again he says all right but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone you want me to respond to your requirement that this woman be punished for her sin let me let me just turn it right back and say go ahead whoever review that or that are the most righteous nothing you've never done anything wrong you've never you never had any brokenness and you'll have go ahead and throw the first stone have at it then he Stoops down again and he starts to write in the dust I'm pretty sure he's writing their names the men's names David adultery Daniel greed I mean that's what I'm that's personally what I think he's writing I I don't know if I'm right but that's what I would write so when the accusers heard this they slipped away quietly by the way one by one beginning with the oldest until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman and then Jesus stood up again and this time he speaks directly to this woman where are your accusers didn't even one of them condemn you she looks around guess not no Lord she says and Jesus says three of the most powerful words that I believe that in the in in the context of Jesus's teaching the most powerful some of the most powerful words he's ever said neither do I I don't condemn you either go and sin no more he invites her sometimes we've used this go and sin no more and we like it so get yourself straightened out you know we read it that way we think this gets your life in order because it's a mess that's not the way he said it's not in the original language it's this idea I don't condemn you and I want to invite you to walk in the light of God's love there's this place this invitation to this kind of world that that most of us don't ever experience of walking in the light where there's no judgment and no condemnation attached to it and Jesus invites her into this and how do I know that because right then at that moment he turns back to the crowds and he says to the people I am the light of the world if you follow me you won't have to walk in darkness because you will have the light that leads to life I am the light of the world what's intriguing to me is that I mean it's so easy to live in darkness we all do it's in what's easy in the darkness it's easy to hide in the darkness we were played hide and seek with the with grandkid or a son or a daughter and I I'm I'm really good at hide-and-seek they can never find me until they were like 10 years old and then they could start finding me but I thought I'd hide in dark places I've used the environment to help conceal and I do that with other areas of my life too and even though I don't know your stories all of your stories what I do know is that you do the same we're as humans we are good at hiding things we don't want people to find we don't want people to see we don't want people to know and because if they do know we're afraid that they will judge us or reject us and so the idea of coming into the light is a terrifying one to so many people I reminds me of traveling around Africa and going back to my room at night and turning on the light and all kinds of things scurrying around on the floor well and the walls and the ceiling trying to get fine darkness again and it's like terrifying to go to sleep I let's just turn the light back off this is to keep the light off and I think it's terrifying to turn the light on because of what these teachers of religious law and then these Pharisees did they brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and they put her in front of everyone that happens once to you you're done you're done opening up if that happens to someone around you you definitely won't do it if and and I listened there I remember churches that when someone send it would become a public display just to make sure that everybody else in the church knew that this was inappropriate behavior and no wonder the church as as it has existed I think it's changing but as it has existed is is filled with people who wear masks and cover up and hide and don't say anything because you don't know what or how they're going to use that information and and that's and we see that here the religious institution of all the places that this woman should have found a safe place to to be uncovered in a sense should be in the temple the place where God dwells and yet the very place that this could happen is the place that shame and is-is-is is built around and and we all fear this that once my sin my brokenness or or my confusion or my doubts or my questions about God or in my unbelief or whatever is revealed and I don't know what the people will think last year I was still going to counseling and I was talking to my counselor and he he asked me I don't know how it came out I can't remember how the church came up but a capital C Church not not just Westside but he asked me what's your view of the church capital C Church what's your view of the church and he wanted me to like give him an image like a metaphor and I was really hard for anything I know and then he said what about a memory to have a memory I was like okay let me think about a memory of the and then something dropped into my it's just a random memory from when I went I was standing next to my dad who is an assistant pastor at a church and he was standing here and I was saying here and in the end it's really happened there was a parishioner standing in front of us really mad I remember he was really upset and he was yelling at my dad about the sin in our lives and that how he he couldn't that he wasn't leading his household right because his his children were the worst sinning kids in the church which probably was true but still it was I just remember I remember that moment of standing there and this man yelling and I'm thinking and that and so when he asked me the image of mature sighs that was the image I was like half-track I didn't say I said I think that's a problem as a pastor of a church I think that my image might be a problem and and I think I think I mean I know we're getting better at loving people but I still think we wound our wounded and hurt the hurt and I think I think it still happens and and and we're human and and I get that and I but and now oh my goodness we use social media I mean it took me two seconds to put in the name of a high-profile religious leader to find Facebook's site like an entire page devoted to defaming this this pastor and leader and all the thousands of comments from Christians who were just got on the bandwagon I'm like really is this are we still there are we still the religious institution that when people are broken and and maybe they're confused that that's what we do see this happens still and in these kinds of environments there's no room for transparency and vulnerability values that we hold high here at Westside there's no room for full disclosure without fear of reprisal so what do we do we do what any other sane person would do in environments like that we keep things in the dark we hold things we don't share them we keep the lights off day after day year after year and we never really open up our lives to Jesus or anyone else and I and I and I know that there's other things that cause the epidemic of suicides and depression and mental health issues and anxiety but I tell you I know for sure that part of that is because we are bottling up everything contrast this environment that these religious people had created or in the temple with what Jesus says when he stands up and he says to this woman where are your accusers and she's like I don't see any exactly I don't accuse you either I don't condemn you go and sin no more this invitation that he says and that that I am the light of the world at any one that I mean if you follow me you don't have to walk in darkness any longer because you'll have this light that leads to life so my my counselor in this moment where I described the church the way I did he's he says well what he says you close your eyes now imagine Jesus enters into the picture cuz Jesus wasn't in my image he says imagine Jesus coming into that moment where this parishioner is yelling at your dad and and about you you and about how your inves behaving and what does Jesus do and so I thought about for a minute I just I see Jesus coming in and walk him right in between this parishioner and my dad and me and standing there and with his face towards us a smile happy to be with us pleased with us like grabbing onto us and holding us that was the image I had later I thought I would have I think I would rather Jesus come in and turn and yell at that guy you know what I'm saying like give it to him but that's not the image I got it was this it was transformative for me to realize that man even the church that has that we've we've we've we've fumbled this in in our history if G if Jesus the real Jesus shows up in our midst that that all of a sudden the light though and his light of love will envelop us in our brokenness and in our shame and can change the narrative it can change a culture of the kind of church and the kind of people that we can be how does it change us how does the light of Jesus transform us and if you're taking notes I want you to write this down if there's one thing that you walk away with that you remember out of this message this is the one thing I want you to get more than anything else is that you can trust Jesus with your deepest wound pain question or doubt you can trust Jesus with it with your brokenness with your shame with your insecurities with your hurts the wounds that have been done to you you can trust him with all of it how do I know this well let me give you a brief history lesson of this kind of what's going on in the context of Jesus saying what he's saying about being the light of the world and this woman caught in adultery there's some history here that I think is important so where Jesus was standing when the woman who was kind of Daltrey was was brought to him he was in the part of the temple called the court of women and this was a court that wasn't just women Jesus wasn't just hanging out with women there's nothing wrong with that but he was in a mixed group this is where everyone could be this is where both men and women gathered together and there was a part of the temple that women were not allowed in only men this is a side note but let me just tell you how transformative Jesus was and radical of a leader he was is that he did his teaching in the temple in that place where everyone was there not just men that's pretty revolutionary in that time obviously and so so Jesus is there at this at this in the in the Court of women why is this important so let me just describe the kind of history so back in Exodus 40 it describes the tabernacle and and and the reason why this Tabernacle imagery is important is because when Jesus was confronted by these religious people it was just at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles and they were selling what they were celebrating is in Exodus 40 the Jewish people were wandering the wilderness after Moses delivered them from Egypt and they were wandering for forty years and God had them build a tabernacle a little church it was the first setup and teardown Church that we know of and so they set this up and and they would move and they would take the tabernacle down and move with them and set it back up and every time they set it up the Shekinah so it's this this word that is used to describe the presence of God the glory of God the light of God would would enter into the tabernacle when they got it set up well then in I think it's secreto coals I wrote down here saying chronicles under the rule of Solomon Solomon built a permanent temple this is actually the temple that Jesus was in when he talked and Solomon built this temple and and and it shows us the second chronicles that when they were done building the temple the Shekinah of God's glory of his presence the light of God went into that temple as well but then in Ezekiel if Ezekiel the Prophet describes the moment that the Shekinah left and never came back in Ezekiel because of God's people continued to turn away from God God went ahead and and left the temple and and from that point until Jesus and his teaching in the court of women the the Shekinah hadn't had never had never been there again and so what the Jewish people did on the Feast of Tabernacles is that they would light candles the menorah they would light it in the court of women and and they would come all gathered together at night and celebrate the the light and so they recreated the Shekinah even because God wasn't there but they're going to make sure that we remember that there used to be light in this temple the glory of God used to reside there and so this was what this was the Feast of Tabernacles and it's just following that that now Jesus stands and stant he's standing in the court of women and I can just see him standing right in front of minora that's going to be lit that night as they celebrate the idea that God used to be in the temple his Shekinah his glory and he's standing right there in the midst of this woman's brokenness in the midst of this religious institution that's lost their way and he declares I am the light of the world he's like saying the Shekinah is back boys I mean come on there's another way to live again there's another way a new way to to to live in relationship with God and he says I am the light of the world and because of that you can trust Jesus with your deepest wound pain question or doubt he's saying I'm here and it's a different kind of light nobody ever wants to come on stage with me because of these lights they're so bright and the reason they're so bright is so that the online audience can see and so it's important but this isn't the place to bare my soul though I have my cross to bear not yours but this light is not the place that's this is not seeing I think we think in in religious circles that the light of the world you got to shine the light and it's gonna penetrate and that's interesting and can we shut the lights off again see the light that Jesus was standing in front of that would be lit that night wasn't a strobe light or spotlights or powerful powerful lights that was candle lights so when we read that he says I am the light of the world we think we think big lights cuz that's what we have and we have lights that light up an entire room and entire cities and yet Jesus was simply saying that we said I am the light of the world I'm I'm a light that brings comfort safety and security and and you can trust this I'm not I'm not gonna I'm not getting I'm not gonna like blast this from the rooftops and show everybody your sin and your brokenness and your shame I'm not gonna do that to you I'm gonna be gentle with you and I'm gonna reveal what see I I can see my hand I mean probably from there you can't see that light that but I can see it and when Jesus said if you follow me he wasn't like like if like if you follow me from a distance he's like saying the light isn't bright enough and this just not you've got to be close to me you got if you want if you want the light to guide you and lead you and save you and redeem you and set you free and you've got to be close to it sure it's something that invites people to from a distance because they can see it from a long way off but it's something that if we want to experience freedom we have to be next to it you can turn the lights back on you can trust Jesus you can trust Jesus with your deepest wound and hurt question and doubts here's the second thing I want to ask you can you be trusted with the same light can you be trusted with the same light Suzanne and I were married for only about six months it's been 25 years now but we were married for only six months and as you'll see I still hadn't figured out much many things at all as a man yet and so Suzanne to put me through school worked at Denny's restaurant it was down in Echo Park LA she worked in San Fernando and the two freeway if you're familiar with that area it's it's a sketchy area still is and so she worked in the Denny's there and until 2:00 in the morning and so then she would drive back to where we lived which was in Echo Park on Glendale Boulevard we had at least one car stolen from that street anyway it's not a great area at that time and so we were she would park there and what I didn't know is that she would Park her car park our car get the keys red doors were locked get the keys ready for the gate cuz we lived in an apartment complex that was gated that there was a fence that just went right on to Glendale Boulevard and so she would she would and she would jump out of her car really fast with the key ready open the gate closed it and run into our apartment I didn't really know that I didn't know that it was sketch and so I mean if it's really dark like 2:00 in the morning and I just loved scaring Suzanne when we were first married I mean I loved it it was like a passion of mine and so I feared this was like a really good opportunity you know I mean it was like perfect setup and so I hid behind a bush just inside the gate it's awful you guys at two I'm I'm surprised as you are that I'm still married I'm just telling you I and she opened up that gate and I jumped out of the bushes and I would say it was the best scare ever I mean just on technical terms but not something I would repeat ever again though I have scared her since but not like that and it was actually why do I tell you this story because I think because it's the dark is scary living in the dark is is terrifying and I think there's a desire a yearning in in in humanity to live in the light but if you get scared once you're probably not gonna trust that person ever again Suzanne trust me now but but imagine if someone who's been walking in the dark and they've finally like you know I I hear Steve and he's talking about walking into the light I'm gonna do it and someone jumps out of the bushes and scares you that's you see I'm saying that that the light of Jesus and the light that God asks us to display half to resonate they have to be the same Jesus actually said in Matthew five he makes this declaration over us that you are the light of the world so he says in John eight I am the light of the world Matthew five you are the light of the world he describes this image like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden imagine this and walking many many miles from one city to the next city and you didn't you did time it right and he ended up late and the sun's going down and you can't see the city that you're going to and you and all of a sudden the Sun is gone and it's dark and there's no light none there's no cellphones there's no there's no flashlights there's nothing and you're just wandering I mean robbers and the wild I mean it's just like this is not a good place to be and then all of a sudden you turn in this corner and you see this light on a hill it's welcoming it's like inviting it's like you run to it because you know there is safety security protection hope and Jesus is describing us the church as a city that kind of a city on a hill that has a light that's welcoming no one lights a lamp he says and then puts it under a basket instead a lamp is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone in the house is the light that we display the same light that Jesus displayed that when someone is that once that could someone say about you and about us that you can trust Westside church with your deepest wound pain question or doubt I thought about I thought about how to talk about abortion in our church I thought a lot about it prayed a lot about it and I felt in the last service that this was the moment it's not in my notes I didn't prepare to say anything about it but I but as I think about our church I want our church I mean I listen I believe in life and I believe we're fighting for life I believe for fighting for those that don't have a voice for life but not at the expense we're women in our community feel like they can not share their entire story because of the risk of shame and rejection by church people who would who would turn their backs on them if they knew that we have to hold both of these things together to say that that we can be a people who no matter what the brokenness is no matter what the pain might be no matter what the wound or the questions or the doubts might be that we will walk with people through it that we will not put the strobe light on and make them feel guilty and ashamed of whatever but that they will feel like this is a place where we can be embraced and accepted for women who are who are not just who have had an abortion but women who are considering abortion that we would be a church that would walk with them and not judge them and help them and support them and love them and provide opportunities of support and options for them that maybe they hadn't considered that we would be a people who sign this kind of light that's welcoming and inviting and life-giving so be it Lord everybody take a deep breath take a deep breath I want to finish by telling you a story that I've told before but it's such a good story I asked Suzanne should I tell it again she said she had two great stories so so if you've been if you've been in our community for a while you know the story of me taking my four sons up the South sister at night it was the last time I've hiked the South sister I'd done it with every one of my boys when they turn 12 and then when my youngest Spencer turned 12 we decided to do it at night there was a full moon for part of the journey but then it decided to go away about halfway up the mountain and all we had was these these little tiny headlamps they just did not do the job they were intended to do and and I remember gathering the boys up on the side of the mountain and it I mean it was dark it was so dark and I told them guys we got a we got to stick together and we like really stick together we cannot get separated we can we got to go slow we got to pace ourselves we got to stay and literally we were as we're walking all the person could see was the next light in front of them the headlamp in front of them and you just got to kept your eyes on that you couldn't even see you couldn't even see the person their feet you just let the little light is all you just kept following that he's like Annie we stuck close together it was like we've stuck on their six I mean like just one after the other Hudson was in the front because he's the bravest of all five of us and then and then Spencer I think was Spencer and then Kinkaid and then chase and then me you know I got a I got to be the man take up the back you know make sure nobody gets lost actually I was scared to death so I was this idea though that when Jesus said those if you follow me see believing in Jesus this is is good it's important to following Jesus that Jesus kept on trying to move people to this idea that if you follow me if like you stick on my six I might not I mean I don't think he promises like full illumination like you're gonna see every rock and every crevice and you're and and you're and you're gonna you're gonna know you know what's around the next corner all the time and you're gonna know when the next financial collapse is going to happen I don't think he promises that kind of illumination what he I believe he promises is this one step the next step this I'm gonna light your path I'm gonna show you where to go and you can trust me to get you where I want you to get B you can trust me even when it's really dark and all we have is this little light is it enough what's that old kindergarten song this little light of mine we all need someone to follow in the dead of night some light to hold on to when all else is dark reminds me you have a little boy that it was a Sunday school and a this teacher was talking about Jesus being the light of the world and he took her comment literally and so after class he went up to her and Annie and he said if Jesus is really the light of the world can you can he like asked him to come hang out and the in in my in the alley and behind my house cuz it's really dark back there it's like I need I need him there with me jesus said if you follow me you don't have to walk in darkness Jesus we we run to you there's nowhere else I know there's no one else I know that can provide the kind of hope and life and security and safety and the lack of condemnation the acceptance than you and I pray that that that your light would so infiltrate our darkness that we would then become lights like you lights that people run to that feel welcomed and at home and secure and safe and Jesus for those that are walking in the dark right now I pray that they would find in you someone they can trust to follow wherever you might lead if your eyes closed if you'd like to become a follower of Christ a Jesus Christ follower as he invited this woman into relationship with him and you'd like to make that decision today and with that decision he will bring forgiveness and love and courage and truth and a sense of purpose and he will guide you and lead you and if you'd like to become a follower of Jesus to get on his six and stick with him no matter what comes did you simply right now lift your hand up just look up at me I want to agree with you in a simple prayer you say yeah I want to become a Christ follower today yeah awesome anyone else thank you Jesus for your word that brings life and light and hope and encouragement would you guys repeat this prayer after me it's a simple prayer and join with me even if you've accepted Jesus Jesus I choose you I choose to follow you to walk in your way I invite you to work in my life shine your light into my life I receive your forgiveness your love and your truth in Jesus name Amen can we celebrate with those that just made that decision so great a couple of things before you guys take off today the prayer teams are available talk about pockets of light I mean there is such a wonderful their ministry is such an important part of our church and and so if you are walking in the dark I would encourage you to go over there and they'll simply pray with you and pray for the light of God to be revealed in your in your life and so prayer teams available blue groups are happening this week we're gonna be asking you in groups to light candles and just go around and share about ways that you might need wisdom or guidance from God and I would encourage you to create spaces in your life whether it's in blue groups or with other relationships where where you can be vulnerable we've talked a lot about this in the life of our church and I think it's such an important aspect of any community of faith that we have places and people with whom we can share the deepest darkest stuff in our life you don't have to do it with these lights on you okay you don't have to do that God will give you places and people that you can be open and honest with and then other than that I think it's st. Patrick's Day so all I have to say to you is don't do anything in excess god bless you guys and have a great great week we'll see you next weekend

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