Samuel Rodriguez - Be Light
You may be seated. It's not a coincidence that the first time the universe hears the uttered words of God, God's voice, it was not to say let there be joy, peace, or even love. The voice of the sovereign, the divine, the glorious, uttered the following, Genesis 1:3, "Let there be..." God always begins by turning the lights on. Life requires light. Faith requires light. To a great degree metaphorically and prophetically, we are living, no joke 2023, we are living in a Genesis 1:2 moment. "And darkness prevailed upon the face of the deep".
We are living in dark times. Some are arguing, primarily on social media, that we are living in the darkest hour of all. Darkened by sin, immortality, moral relativism, spiritual apathy, cultural decadence, infanticide, racism, pornography, poverty, violence, false prophets, watered down preaching, hypocrisy, unvital consumerism, voyeurism, materialism, secular tyranny, terror, discord, bigotry, divisions, strike, injustice, hatred, jealousy, and unbelief. We are living in some dark times. And every single time you think things can't get darker, they get darker. And you can accuse me right now becoming a bit Pollyannaish and optimistic, but I do believe, that's why I'm in this conference, that we, our generation will not be defined by Genesis 1:2. We will be defined by the redemptive power of Genesis 1:3, "Let there be light".
In the midst of darkness stems the prophetic truth, a revealed truth, an everlasting truth uttered by our Savior. Matthew 5, you know it well, 14-16. "You," kingdom city, "You," around all the campuses around the world, so many that I can't list them, I'll be here for an hour. "You are the light of the world. And 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".
I want to speak to you for the next 20 minutes on the subject matter, "Be light". When light stands next to darkness, light always wins. Tell your neighbor, the one you like the most, be light. Tell the other neighbor, the one you barely tolerate, tell that neighbor "Be light". If we break down that biblical passage in chronological order, here it is. "Be light by who you are". You are the light of the world. Who are we? He begins by clarifying our identity. It is the quintessential query stemming from the existential womb, who are we? We cannot be light unless we discover who we really are. We cannot be light until we repudiate every vestige of identity moratorium. There's an issue of identity hence the enemies trying to mess up an entire generation regarding identity. Because the moment you discover who you are in Christ you change the world around you.
So, who are we? Who are you? What defines you? Are you defined by your past? Are you defined by your circumstances? Are you defined by what others say about you? Here's the great news from what took place on the cross. Christ defines you. You are not defined by what surrounds you, you are defined by God's spirit inside of you. You are not defined by your circumstance, you are defined by his covenant. You are not defined by the hell you're going through, you are defined by the heaven you're going to. You are not defined by your failures, you are defined by his forgiveness. You are not defined, with great due deference, you're not defined by what took place during COVID, you're defined by what took place on the cross.
And for all of my Facebook, and X, and Instagram, and YouTube followers you are not defined by the likes of many. Like, like, like, like, like, like, like, like. Like, like, like, like, like, like, like, like. You're not defined by the likes of many. You are defined by the love of one. And to all the religious folk, get over yourself. You are not defined by what you do for God, you are defined by what God already did for you. It is the cross, the empty tomb, the upper room, his blood, and his word. You're defined by the Father, the Son... You're defined by Galatians 2:20, "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me".
I love that. That defined, there is an attempt. There's a legitimate attempt to define us collectively. Around the world there are just different sectors of society, influencers who are attempting to tell us who we are. Who are we? Who are we as Christ followers? Who are we as the church? Are we just another institution of society? Are we another religious faith narrative competing in the marketplace of ideas? Are we a feel-good apparatus for the spiritually impaired? Are we antiquated conduit for a set of irrelevant values no longer applicable in the world of ai? How this generation responds will determine whether or not once again light overcomes darkness.
So, it's time to do this. We must respond with clarity, conviction, and courage to the following. Who are we? We are the light of the world. We are a city on a hill. We are people of the word. We are salt and light. We are disciples, witnesses and Christ followers. We are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. We are children of the cross, fruit of the empty tomb, and product of the upper room. We are the redeemed of the Lord, the sheep of his pasture. We are forgiven, free, and favored, called and chosen warriors, and worshippers. We are the righteousness of God. We are world changers, and we are history makers. I'mma get in trouble but let me tell you what we are not. We're not Google, we are not Microsoft. We are not ford. We are not even Starbucks. We are the church of Jesus Christ. And the gates of hell shall not, will not, may not, cannot prevail against us.
If you're a part of that church, praise like you're a part of that church. That's who we are. We are the light of the world. So be light by who are. Which means you are not first and foremost black, white, yellow, or brown, charismatic or automatic. All the automatic people going "Huh"? You're above all, a born-again blood washed, spirit empowered child of God. Be light by who you are. Always remembering that God does not call the perfect, he calls the willing. He doesn't call the one that has it all. He calls upon those that are willing to surrender it all. Because every single time light stands next to darkness, light always wins.
Be light by removing the obstacles. A city on the hill cannot be hidden. If you have it, you don't hide, you let it shine. Our challenge is to remove the bowl of apathy, complacency, acquiescence, and fear. And once again lay claim to the stand of righteousness that we may shine before all men. We cannot be light until we understand something, a rubric I laid out some years ago when I first came here. Today's complacency is tomorrow's captivity. There is no such thing as comfortable Christianity. You are what you tolerate. truth must never be sacrificed on the alter of political, cultural, or sexual expediency. And we have to reconcile our eschatology over our missiology. Which means what? We believe Jesus is coming down, but while we are waiting for Jesus to come down, Jesus is waiting for his church to stand up.
What is trying to hide the light? There is a spiritual battle to turn off the light in your life, in your family, in your God ordained purpose. It is a spiritual battle. For you're not fighting against flesh and blood enemies but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world. There is a battle to turn off your light. There are real spirits out there, no joke. Like straight up real things going on out there. Really crazy stuff, like we've never seen before. It's like the Krakens were all released simultaneously.
The spirits, the spirit of Jezebel is alive and well prompting men and women who carry a mantle to hide in the cave of discouragement, fear, anxiety, and confusion. The spirit of Absalom still lives, dividing homes, churches, communities, and relationships. The spirit of Nebuchadnezzar lives demanding that a generation that Carries favor even in the midst of Babylonians captivity bow to the lies of a false narrative that negates grace, truth, and love. The spirits of Herod still lives, killing the innocent in the womb and in the streets. Then I have news for you. There is a spirit, there is a spirit more powerful than all these spirits combined.
I don't know if you know what I know, but I think you know what I know that you know what I know that you know what I know. You know that I know that we know that we know that we know that we know. And the most powerful spirit on the planet is not Jezebel, it's not Pharaoh, it's not Goliath, it's not Herod, it's not Nebuchadnezzar. The most powerful spirit on the planet is still the Holy Spirit. If you have that spirit, praise like you have that spirit. I said if you have that spirit, worship like you have that spirit. Shout like you have that spirit. Live like you have that spirit. Love like you have that spirit. Forgive like you have that spirit. It is not by might, nor by power. "But by my spirit," say of the Lord.
Oh, that spirit is still moving. That spirit is still moving and there's... Are we streaming? We are, right? Everywhere? They were, I have to be very nuanced about this because of the different dynamics per nation. So, let me be nuanced. There were actually... How do I put this? There was.... There were people that actually put money on the idea that if one institution would not survive COVID it would be the Christian church. No joke. Very powerful influential global sector leaders that have an agenda of secular totalitarianism of ideologies that are chaotic and anarchist. And they really believed, if there's one institution will not survive COVID will be the church.
Well, I don't know if you understand what this means. There is not virus, there's not an order, there's not an algorithm, there's not a structure, there's not a force on this planet that will ever have the authority to stop the Holy Spirit of God from moving. Somebody praise like you know it. Are there any questions? Be light by removing the obstacles, by knowing the fact that Spirit of God is still... What does this mean? It means, "Pastor Sam but things are getting dark. What about this whole thing with AI now and some of the predictions about AI? And what about this, like the UFOs and the aliens? What about Lebron not winning with the lakers"?
I mean there are certain things, there are legitimate questions out there. "And boy every time darkness, what happens"? It doesn't matter. Every single time light stands to darkness light always win. "But what happens if something new emerges"? It doesn't really matter, because for every Pharaoh there must be a Moses. For every Goliath there must be David. For every Nebuchadnezzar there must be a Daniel. For every Jezebel there must be an Elijah. For every Herod there must be a Jesus. And for every devil that dares rise up against you, there is a mightier God that will rise up for you and your family, and that's the promise of God.
So, it's time to remove the bowl, to shake off whatever lie for hell has placed upon your light. Always remembering that what you can't shake off, Jesus washes off. That you are here not because you perfectly held on to God, but because God perfectly held onto you. You are here because what God has placed inside of you is greater than anything hell can place in front of you. You are here because you learned the following adage, "When life throws you rocks, you build an altar". 1 John 2:8, "I'm writing you a new command. Its truth is seen in him and in you, the darkness is passing, and the true light is already shining".
The final point here, are the any questions? Be light by where you stand, chronological order. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone. The stand represents a facilitative platform on which we shine the light of Christ. Where do we stand? We stand, we stand on the undeniable and unshakeable reality that Christ is the hope of glory. We stand on John 14:6 that "He is the way, the truth, and the life". We stand on righteousness and justice. Psalm 89:14, "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants".
We stand on a cross that is both vertical and horizontal. It is both heaven, and earth, righteousness and justice. Sanctification and service, holiness and humility, truth and love, conviction and compassion, the prophetic, and the practical, missions in the marketplace, orthodoxy and orthopraxy, ethos and pathos. John 3:16 and Matthew 25. It is both the new Jerusalem and KL Malaysia, and Perth Australia, and Dubai.
I shared this morning, and if you weren't here in any of the morning services raise your hand, if you were not here. If you were not... Wow, ok. So, then it merits me repeating this. I lived this out this past year October, November, my wife and i, we preached a series about the Shunammite woman, 2 Kings 4. We illustrate it with door. We went through the door as an illustration. Immediately thereafter, our church, by the grace of God, in Sacramento, we have multiple campuses but the Sacramento campus, just, we.... God really blew up the church with a great harvest expect that the auditorium size is de minimis. And it is hard in California, very difficult, and we were desperate need. We got a little, the county came in and told us, "Y'all have too many people in your church". And they are threatening and all that sort of thing, right?
So, we get this call, here's the call, "Pastor Sam," from the prominent ministry in California. "Pastor Sam, we did not survive COVID. Our people left. We have a property of 88 acres strong worth 75 to 80 million us dollars, on the highway frontage area of the region. We have an auditorium that fits 3,000, a second auditorium that fits 1,000, a third auditorium that fits 300. And would you be interested in coming in, merging, taking over the ministry"? My wife and I saw it as an answered prayer. Our church did, our board actually. We went like, "This is it". I mean, what are the chances?
We preached a sermon, we walked through the door, we get a call. And this must be it. So, we met, we met, we had preliminary meetings, a handful of them. And the preliminary meetings were all super positive. And then it happened. "Pastor Sam, let's formalize this. We would like you to bring in your board, and your board will meet with our board. We'll sit down formalize the agreement, draft an MOU, and then we'll take it from there. We'll execute accordingly".
We were excited. I met with my team at Starbucks and that beautiful sanctuary, our campus called Starbucks. Put aside the Jezebel cups. Anyway, so we... It is what is. Almond milk latte, almond milk latte. Yes, yes, yes. So, we sat down at Starbucks, and we debriefed, right? So, we're debriefing and Pastor Sam, "Ok we're going into meeting guys right across the street. So, what questions do you think they're gonna ask? They never gave us a list of questions". Pastor Sam, integration of systems? Check. Fiduciary governance elements? Yes. Legal risk management? Yes. Attrition? Yes. With their people being let go and... Yes. Yah.
They probably gonna ask questions about whether or not you're gonna have Slavic service with a Slavic community in the region, a Spanish service. Yes, yes, yes, yes. So, we got everything set. We walked in there. Alright we prayed, "Lord, help us". We walk across the street, and we go into the meeting. My team sits right here, and their team sits right here. All of a sudden here it is. In this order, "Pastor Sam we wanna begin. The first question we have for you," and I'm thinking here it is. "Well, fiduciary governance systems, integration..." I was even open to they're gonna ask me why do I preach so fast. And why do I get so excited. And all of that is a simple anointing plus the coffee.
So, it's just... So I'm ready, and I'm ready, I'm going. "Yes". And then just like this the guy looks at me and says, "Pastor Sam, here's our first question. Our church, we", talking about political, cultural, theological context, "Our church, we, we lean left. Where do you lean"? This is my facial response... Because I am first and foremost, believe it or not, a comedian. So, before I even heard prophetic God, no. My mind told me, "Dude you have enough jokes here for the next three years. We lean left. Where do you lean"?
Then the next thing that happened is both a sign and a wonder. Nothing came outta my mouth. Nothing, and I mean nothing came out of my mouth. My team is looking at me like, "Say something pastor". And, "We lean left. Where do you lean"? And this is me... Because the Holy Spirit was speaking to me, and the Holy Spirit was telling me, "Samuel, Sammy, say it. Answer them. Answer them, Sammy". And I didn't want to. Because if I would say what the Holy Spirit wanted me to say, we weren't go get that building. And the Holy Spirit say, "Sammy, say it". So, I'm looking... "Sammy, say it".
So finally, I looked up and I said, "Sir thank you for your question. With great due deference our church, new season, we don't lean. We stand". We stand. I said we stand. We stand on the Word of God. The promises of God. The finished work of Jesus. Everything the Bible calls holy, we call holy. Everything the Bible calls sin, we call sin. Kingdom city you're not a church that leans left or leans right, you are a church of Christ followers that stands. Left up your hands if you're standing. Repeat after me, "I don't lean. I stand. In my house. In my family. In my home. In my relationships. In my generation. In my city I don't lean. I stand".
Somebody shout like you're about to shine like you've never shined before. All the standing believe, you're stand, stand with, you're standing, stand with me. We don't lean, we... We don't lean, we... We don't lean we... We don't need Christians that lean, we need believers that stand, stand. 1 Corinthians 16:13, "Stand firm". Ephesians 6, "Put on the armor of God", when it's all said and done, when you've done everything else, stand. We were about to see the church stand. No more leaning. We stand. And we stand not only in conferences, we stand not just in here, we stand up out there.
You're standing with me. Be light by what you do. In the same way let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise you Father in heaven. Ephesians 5:8, "You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light". Shine. Shine, shine. When asked what do Christians do beside going to church on Sunday and complaining about things Monday to Saturday, here's my response.
We love, we forgive, we bless our enemies, we pursue righteousness, we quench the thirsty, clothed the naked, feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, we take care of the orphan, and the widow. We preach the word in and out of season. We worship in spirit and in truth. We do justice, we love mercy, we walk humbly before God. We are light, and we stand. First Samuel 3:3, powerful verse, "The lamp of God has not gone out yet". The brightest light is when all the colors of the spectrum merge together and kingdom city elevates. You literally live that out in all that you do in all of your campuses. You look like heaven.