(not just rise!)
Rise and shine! I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase (oops! The editor says it’s a clause not a phrase). Whatever it is, it usually means ‘wake up and stop moping about like a sack of potatoes’.
But here I want to talk about how to rise and shine with God’s glory throughout the day. In other words, how can we be (and it’s a dreaded word) Christ-like? Impossible, I hear you cry. Well, let’s see.
Rise and shine
Try the new brand of Ramsey’s cornflakes! Come on, we’ve all seen the advert where the man walks downstairs looking like a tired gorilla. This gorilla then eats some cornflakes and turns into a handsome young man. The intended result? Wife realises that husband looks like the grumpy ape and decides to act. So she buys this brand of over-priced cereal and — nothing changes.
Yes, we need to start our day with the right food, but not just a feast of cereal and coffee. To be Christ-like we need to feast our eyes and minds on the Word of God. We need spiritual food — a steady diet of prayer and studying God’s holy and precious Word.
They say that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. Well, in a much greater way a meditation on God’s Word at the start of the day can keep you safe and secure from the evil one (no reflection on doctors intended!)
Take time to put on that full armour of God (Ephesians 6) and start the day with God at the centre.
Shine at school
As a teenager I don’t know about other generations but I do know what it’s like for those at school! What do you face at school? Well, to start with, you have a lot of time to talk — not just at lunch and break but also during the ‘unofficial breaks’ known as Music and PSHCE!
During these times of discussion the average teenager will engage in highly intellectual conversations about such topics as sex and … well no, actually that’s about it. And it’s easy to become caught up with the lustful thinking of hormone-driven unbelievers.
So how do you reply? Do you go into your shell and say, ‘Well erm, you know, I erm… don’t really…erm’? No! Come right out and announce that you’re keeping yourself pure and sex is a gift from God for marriage and not to be abused outside of it. I’ve been there, folks, and you get laughed at. That isn’t easy, but pray — perhaps the seed you sow will bear fruit.
So this huge amount of time needs to be spent talking. What to do? You need to stop the conversation drifting in the wrong direction but silence is no answer. It isn’t good for teenagers — they get bored! So, when opportunity arises, turn the conversation to Christ. What better subject could there be?
Shine at work
A lot of teenagers work (even those still at school). I got a part-time job with hospital radio. Like other work places it presents a lot of problems for a Christian.
Nail your colours to the mast. At the first opportunity make it clear that you are a Christian. Even better, put it on your application form and CV. Then they know what they’re getting and you don’t have second thoughts about telling them.
Do not compromise in language! In the workplace people use lots of sexual innuendo and bad language, which become almost second nature for them. But if you have nailed your colours firmly to the mast, and refuse to join in, it will make a difference.
Of course, you will be picked up and criticised. If a fellow worker uses bad or suggestive language no one has a problem. But if you even hint at it yourself you are put down as a hypocrite. It’s not worth the hassle.
And the third thing you must remember when you’re trying to shine at work is never deny your faith. If you deny Christ in front of people or hint at a distrust of his Word or a doubt in your faith, they will take you apart.
Shine in life
We represent Christ wherever we go. In everyday life we must let Christ shine through us. We need to bear the fruit of his Spirit — ‘which is love, joy, peace, patience …’ (Galatians 5:22-23).
We must live knowing that we are being watched. We should be concerned about the little things — like reading your Bible in your breaks or giving thanks before eating in the work canteen. These habits show your workmates that your faith is real.
People often talk about being a good neighbour or Good Samaritan. This can be annoying because they don’t understand the gospel and think being a good neighbour will get them to heaven.
But that being said, Christians really do need to be good neighbours! You need to live Christ at all points in the day. All that is needed for sin to grow is for believing people to be ‘indoor Christians’.
Come outside and love your neighbour! Not to get to heaven — if you are saved that is all done and paid for at the cross. But do it to show that the gospel really works.
Shine from the heart
But we shall never live shining lives until we have shining hearts — until God has shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Shining hearts have two things in common — a love for Jesus and a desire to bring the gospel into the hearts of others.
Don’t feel disheartened because you’re in a small church with few people. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong. Some fine preachers minister in small churches and do a great work. God may not come in revival but we must be prepared. Revival starts in our own hearts and only comes where God’s people are willing.
So get ready! No, that’s not ‘health and wealth’ teaching. You should be praying and preparing to receive God’s blessing.
We would all love it if a group of teenagers walked off the street into our church and were saved. But would we be ready for such a thing? Pray with faith and wait for God to work.