This text from the prophet Isaiah comes to us from a portion of the book biblical scholars have coined as Servant Songs. It comprises several passages from Isaiah 42:1-7, 49:1-7, 50:4-9, and 52:13-53:12. These passages describe God’s servant. Called to be a light to the nations.
Wheww, that’s quite a monumental task!!
Not one nation. Not a specific nation. THE Nations …. As in, ALL the nations.
Truly a monumental task. A task that perhaps more often than not seems exhausting, unfulfilling, or perhaps even unrealistic. Especially when things don’t pan out the way we had hoped.
And then there are those moments where we feel inadequate to God’s call. Times when we might feel our lives aren’t worthy enough to be called a servant of God. Maybe we even ask, “God, why me?” Why not look at so and so instead …
When God calls, we tend to be our worst critics. More often than not, we don’t fulfill God’s call in our lives, not because of external factors, or time constraints or limitations, but sometimes, we don’t fulfill God’s call in our lives because of ourselves. We discourage ourselves and sometimes we even discourage others along the way, too.
But here’s the deal, God never takes no for an answer. God never accepts any of our excuses. God never accepts the limitations we’ve placed on ourselves. God could care less of our petty comparisons to others, and you know why? Because God called you. God chose you. God claimed you.
Your unique self.
Your intricate self.
Your complicated self.
God called all of who you are to be a light to ALL the nations.
You think you’re not good enough? You think you don’t have what it takes to be a witness to the life-giving, life-empowering gospel of the risen Christ? “That’s fine,” says God, “I’m calling you to something bigger – I’m calling you to be a light to the nations.”
“ … because of the LORD, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, has chosen you.”
God with us. God before us. The Holy One of Israel … chooses you … and you.
God chooses me.
God chooses you.
God chooses ALL of us … to be a light to ALL the nations!
Being a light to the nations means you cast out, call out and bring out of the shadows injustice and oppression. Being a light to the nations means you cast out the shadows of all that is broken in the world.
Being the light means we work towards a common call and purpose. Not for our own benefit or ego, but because God appoints us as light to the nations so that salvation may reach to the end of the earth.
We’re not called to be a light to the nations for the purposes of filling the pews.
We’re not called to be a light to the nations in order to perpetuate the status quo.
To be the light means you tackle injustice with the assurance that God is faithful and God has claimed you. As the light of the world, we bring out the injustices of the world for all to see, so that as salt and zest for the earth we can stir movement into action.
As light of the world, we are called to shine in those places of the world that have been overtaken by brokenness. As light of the world we are called to heal, so that as salt and zest of the earth we might awaken those who sit in loneliness. As light of the world, we are called to shine in places that are desperately in need of justice and equity. And most importantly, as light of the world, we are not called to keep this life and light, salt and zest to ourselves. We are called to shine to the communities around us.
Often churches ask themselves why are the pews no longer filled? I wrestle with that same question, too. And I wonder if perhaps we might not be shining our light strong enough? The song does say “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine,” but are we though?
Are we shining our light bright enough for the neighbors across to street to see it shine strong enough that they might be compelled to be witnesses to that same light?
Jesus calls us to be the light of the world because Jesus’ own light and life ought to be shining deep within our souls.
Songwriter David Haas wrote the song titled “We are Called”. The song invites us to:
Come! live in the light!
Shine with the joy and the love of the Lord!
We are called to be light for the kingdom,
to live in the freedom of the city of God!
Similarly, Frederick Buechener wrote that “Jesus calls us to show this truth forth, live this truth forth. Be the light of the world, he says. Where there are dark places, be the light especially there. Be truly alive. Be life-givers to others. That is what Jesus tells the disciples to be. That is what Jesus tells his church, tells us, to be and do.”
You are a light on the hill, O people:
Light for the City of God!
Shine so holy and bright, O people:
Shine for the Kingdom of God!
What are you doing with God’s call on your life? In spite of your perceived limitations, God is still calling ALL of us to be a light to the nations. This light of yours … are you really going to let it shine? Are you? AMEN.
Rev. Daniel Morales is the pastor of New Covenant Presbyterian Church, the first racially integrated congregation of the Presbyterian Church in the south. He’s a Miami native, born to first generation Cuban immigrants. A musician, amateur photographer and avid weight-lifter, Danny enjoys physical fitness as much as he enjoys Miami’s beaches along with its active and vibrant outdoor life, as well as exploring all the foodie experiences popping up throughout the metropolitan Miami area. Married to an exceptionally talented violinist, Danny also enjoys performing musical duets with his husband Ebert. Danny and Ebert live in the Kendall area, a suburban community west of Miami.