With the Labor Day Weekend comes the reality that the season is winding down. There is no shortage of racing left but the leaves are turning, time is short. The Championship races are coming into focus. How do we perform under the microscope? Will people see our true character? When they do, will they see Jesus? Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We find ourselves, in life and racing, in pressure packed situations. We need to perform better to retain a sponsor or we need a good finish to secure our point standings. There are many opportunities at this time of the season to forget about everything and focus on our on-track performance. Crunch Time!
The challenge is when we put pressure on ourselves do we represent God well? Do we lose sight of what we have been called to become in Christ and revert to a self-focused and self-serving attitude? Do we forget to look around and see what others are going through?
It is difficult to not let the circumstances around us dictate how we act. That is one of those easier to say than do things. When we train our focus on one thing we lose focus on what truly matters. We should be looking around for the opportunities that God has for us. When we turn our focus internally we do not see or hear the voice of God. Jesus encourages us to remember who we are called to be.
Matthew 5:13-16; “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city 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 men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Jesus uses two analogies, salt and light. Let’s take a look at salt first. Do you use salt?
We use salt for different things such as to season food or melting ice. When we use it as a seasoning we enhance the flavor. Take a look around, are we enhancing those around us? Are we making things better or worse? Think of it as credibility, are people listening or have they determined we are not someone to listen to?
Salt changes things. When we put salt on ice it melts. Salt can be corrosive; it can tear things apart. We are encouraged by Jesus to use the love of Christ to improve the situation. Jesus cautions that if we lose our credibility, our focus, our “salt” is no longer effective we become useless.
We have the opportunity each moment we live to affect those around us, either for good or evil. We decide how we will use our influence. When we choose to be destructive our ability to claim the love of Christ is gone. Our witness is no longer respected.
When we find ourselves under pressure we need to be aware of how we are demonstrating our faith. We need to remember who is in control. We need to avoid losing our saltiness, our credibility, our witness.
Think of it this way. You can be an egg, a carrot or coffee beans. Let me explain, when we place each one of these in the heat of the moment, boiling water, they react differently. An egg becomes hard-boiled. Its insides change from liquid to solid. Our heart gets hard. Carrots on the other hand get soft and mushy. They start off rigid and strong but end up all mushy, no backbone, no firm foundation to stand on. Now coffee beans on the other hand do not change, they remain the same. They do however change the water. The water becomes aromatic and tasty. The water becomes desirable. The coffee beans do not change but they enhance the water. Which one are we? When pressure comes do we harden our heart, lose our foundation or add to the situation in a way that improves it? Don’t lose your saltiness.
Have you ever reached for the light switch to add a little light to the situation? “Give me that light, I can’t see what I’m doing here.” We rely on light to help us dispel the shadows and show what is before us. Light dispels the darkness.
Jesus also put a light in each one of us, a light that will dispel the darkness. We need to remember to use it, not to hide our light. Have you ever been in a dark place with no lights? You cannot see your hand in front of your face. Then you see a glimmer of light, a little flame, it is amazing how much light it provides.
We all have those dark places in life, places we go that are not good. When we find ourselves or others in those places we need to shed a little light. Christ gives us a light to shine and dispel the darkness, hope. Hope is an interesting and powerful emotion. It has its source in Jesus Christ. Faith and trust in Him will dispel the darkness. That not only works for us but it will help others see through their dark times.
If we know Christ we have that light. We, as Christians, have the opportunity to light the darkness others are experiencing. When all hope seems gone, the light of one who knows Jesus can bring hope to the world.
Have you ever tried to stumble around in the dark? Even in your own home, you think you know where things are, but you still stub your toe and stumble. When we hide our light we cause others to stumble around in the darkness. When we keep the love of God to ourselves and do not share it we leave others to find their own way in the darkness. Let our light shine! Put it on a lampstand and help others find their way.
Jesus used these two analogies to demonstrate two important functions we have as Christians. We need to improve the lives of others and shine our light to help them find their way. Have we improved the lives of those around us or have we been an obstacle? Whether we realize it or not we are leading. We need to be sure we are leading people to what is right.
With the change of the seasons comes the reality of time passing. That can be an encouragement as we look forward or a pressure as we look back and see failures and shortcomings. The path ahead can be intimidating. This passage challenges us to be there for others, helping them find the hope and future that God offers with His presence.
Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support and donations helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.