Sunday Service Message March 1, 2020: I Am the Light of the World

What Was Jesus’ Last Name?

Family surnames, as we understand them in the modern West today, began to take hold sometime around the year 1400, with widespread adoption by 1600.  Prior to that time, most people were referred to as “son of . . .” or “daughter of . . .”  In creating surnames, many people did in fact just use the suffix son – Anderson, Johnson, Williamson.  Another common practice was to use a byname, that is, a description of their place of origin or profession – Irving Berlin, Anatoly France, Jack London, Tiger Woods; Farmer, Smith, Porter, or Carpenter, for example.

If asked “who was Yeshua ben Yussef?” many people may not know (Hebrew for Joshua, son of Joseph – Jesus is the Latin version of Joshua).  He is much better known, of course, as Jesus of Nazareth.  He is referred to even more commonly as Jesus Christ.  Christ was not his name, but is a title that comes from the Greek word χριστός (chrīstós), meaning "anointed one.”

Unity teaches that Jesus was our Way-Shōwer, our example.  He was the ultimate demonstration of Divine Potential in every one of us.  While we in Unity may still refer to Yeshua ben Yussef as Jesus Christ, we understand the title Christ to be the manifestation on earth of union between humans and the Divine.

Jesus taught many of his lessons using parables and metaphors.  Our scripture this week comes from The Sermon on the Mount, which we find in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapters 5 through 7.  If one learns nothing more about the teachings of Jesus, this sermon is the most complete single outline for how we can also be one with the Divine, or the Christ.  Consider this passage:

You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16

Here Jesus is telling us that not only are we all capable of expressing as the Christ, but it is inherent to our very being.  We need only to allow the light that is innate in all of us to shine.

The Holy Scriptures known in Christianity as The Bible, are a collection of books written and compiled over a period of more than twelve hundred years.  By the time Jesus was teaching, the oldest part of the Hebrew Bible, or Torah, what Christians call the Pentateuch (the Five Books of Moses), was already more than a thousand years old.  The Jews of Jesus' time were all well acquainted with Genesis, including the creation story:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.  Genesis 1:1-3

In the opening passage of Genesis, Light is the first thing “created” by God.  By doing so, light was separated from the darkness, and most noteworthy, it was good.

Unity teaches that light coming into being was merely the first time that the Christ came to earth - for Christ and The Light are one and the same.  The second appearance of the Christ on earth was represented in the life of Jesus.  Unity also teaches that there is a third appearance of the Christ on earth – that of relationship in beloved community.

So, through the creation story in Genesis we know that The Light was created by God, and was defined as good.  Through Jesus we learn that we are all The Light, and that we can do all that he has done, and more – “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”  John 14:12.

Traditional Christianity teaches that this verse means Jesus was an intercessor between God and humans.  Unity teaches that because we are all endowed with the Light, Jesus provided the example of union with the Divine, that is, “going to the Father.”  When we know that we too can “go to the Father” this is when we are able to do all that he had done, and even greater things.

Although we are all endowed with The Light Within, we mortal humans, as Jesus was too, very often are not expressing our true Christ-self, shall we say, 100% of the time – smile.  But we need not despair at coming up short of not always allowing our Light to shine.  Because the Christ Light is within us as part of our very being, whenever we discover that we have “put our lamp under a bowl,” we can simply decide to remove the cover and illuminate the world again with our true selves.

That sounds simple, but as is true with so many things in life, simple does not necessarily mean easy.  So exactly how do we re-kindle our Light?  There are a number of ways we might accomplish this.  The first step if recognition.  The world provides us with constant feedback about everything we do and say.  Our bodies tell us when we have an imbalance of some kind.  Pain, too hot, too cold, hungry, sleepy, are all messages for us to pay attention.

In the same way, if we are experiencing difficulties in any aspect of our lives, be it relationships, finances, health, or anything else, that is feedback that we need to pay attention to something.  Some of our challenges may be beyond our control, but some may be from actions we ourselves took, or failed to take.

That brings us to what Unity teaches is the third coming of the Christ – through beloved community.  Through our relationships we can help others to see the Truth of themselves when they cannot see it.  We often can see the good, and the not so good, in others when we cannot, or will not, see it in ourselves.  When we are in healthy relationship with partners, family, friends, and everyone we know and encounter, we will naturally recognize the good in them.  When we see that good in them, we will then know that we too are good, and will then be able to better live that Truth.

Scripture:

You are the light of the world.  Matthew 5:14

Spiritual Practice:

Take time this week to meditate/contemplate the scripture:  You are the light of the world.  Throughout your day pause and consider, I am the light of the world.  As you do so, ask what would it look like to be the light in this moment?  As your wisdom guides, follow it.  Be the light of the world this week!

There is a saying that says, “God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we might listen twice as much as we speak.”  This week, while recognizing that I am the Light, I will make a conscious effort to listen to others, really listen.  Then listen again.

Greg Skuderin