Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Stand fast for Christ


"Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way of putting it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand — Shine!" (Matthew 5:13-15, The Message)


By Bishop Robert Hayes Jr.

Do you grow weary of hearing about the bad in our world? I do! We are bombarded with accounts of violence, evil, and corruption inflicted by humans upon one another. The stories spill out incessantly from 24/7 news media. It seems we can’t escape the ugliness of a civilization that at times seems so uncivilized.

This column counters the bad news. This heralds the good that often goes unseen and unappreciated. Can you imagine how bad the world would be without Christians? I want to declare the measurable difference that Christians and caring people of other faith communities make as we seek to transform lives in good ways.

I don’t think we can even begin to fathom how unbearable life would be if people of goodwill were absent in the world. I believe that Christians are the moral compass in society, the conscience that prevents humanity from drifting into senselessness and chaos.

Christians raise the standard of concern and caring that is essential if good is to triumph over evil.

We are the people who take our name from the greatest teacher who ever walked this earth! Jesus Christ proclaimed a message of salvation, hope, and love for all people! He despised hatred and evil, exclusion and greed. His life was dedicated to the poor and others marginalized by society. He redefined wealth as something not to be stockpiled but to be given away to help the disenfranchised. He lived as an example for us to emulate.

Christ reminds us that goodness and mercy ultimately overcome the forces that seek to destroy.

He never said that following him would be easy. In fact, he likened discipleship to denying one’s self and carrying a cross. He presented us with a great paradox, saying that if you truly want to live fully, you must be willing to lose your life in the pursuit of good.

One day, a multitude of people wanted to hear the message he preached. No one had ever heard anyone speak as he did. On the side of a hill, he sat down and began to talk to that crowd in down-to-earth language that everyone could understand.

He called people that followed him the salt of the earth. Salt was the most precious commodity of that time. But Christ said, "If salt has lost its ability to season, to add zest, to preserve that which is good, then it becomes good for nothing!"

He went on to describe people who make a measurable difference as the light of the world. By being light, we illuminate the world with brightness and prevent the world from stumbling in the darkness of sin.

Christ concluded, "Let your light shine so others may see who you belong to through your good works."

In today’s world of spiritual bearings off course, people become lost, confused about priorities without direction from the One who is the true compass. One writer applied the term the "slippery generation," meaning the general feeling that everything around us is falling out of control.

Christians are the people who keep their balance, who hold steady at the center of life’s vortex.

One day a passerby noticed a boy riding a horse in a field. The pair rode up, the boy holding the reins tightly.

"Do you like your horse?" asked the stranger.

"Oh, yes, sir," said the boy, "I sure do."

The man asked, "Is he a swift runner, or can he do tricks?"

"No, he doesn’t run fast at all, and neither does he do tricks."

So the man asked, "Then what can he do?"

The little boy thought for a while, then responded, "Mister, he can sure stand fast!"

In worldly thinking, much credit and attention is given to those who live fast, to lifestyles of glitter and glamour. But Jesus commends those who remain faithful when trials and tribulations assault us. Carrying his name, we are called to stand fast!

A church sign proclaimed this message: "Work for the Lord. The pay may not seem like much, but the retirement plan is out of this world!" Throughout your life, recognize the wages that you receive now as a Christian. As you work to let your light shine against the darkness, you get peace that surpasses understanding, power that enables you to stand fast each day, and purpose for living.


Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

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