Mark 4 is a significant chapter in the work that I do these days. I am frequently meeting with believing Christians, trying to help them see that God designed their lives to be used for God, not for them.
For example, if we look in verses 1-20, Jesus talks about the four different soils and how the good soil is the only one that produces a crop. Not just growth and life, but a crop is produced from one seed. That one seed was used to bring in many plants to glorify God. I wrote more about this last year in this post: Am I Good Soil?
Later, in verses 26-29, Jesus talks about how the farmer scatters the seed, waits for it to grow, and then harvests a crop. We frequently talk about how this is a parable that speaks to how the Kingdom of God works, that God wants each of us to be like the farmer and harvest a crop to bring him glory. You can see more about this in the post and video on the Search Party website: The Four Fields
I think this chapter shows how Jesus is preparing his disciples to begin to do the work that he is doing. He is teaching them how the Kingdom works prior to taking them and showing them, which he will begin to do at the end of the chapter as they set off in the boat to reach the “other side” of the Sea of Galilee, the Gentile side.
In the midst of this chapter, Jesus explains to his disciples that they are like a light. Here is what he says:
He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”Mark 4:21-23
Jesus’s disciples are in the same situation that we are in. In the midst of our societies, in the midst of our communities, it is not popular to follow Jesus. People will accuse us of many things – leaving our community’s traditions, acting morally superior to others, betraying our families, and so on – and so we feel that we want to hide, that we want to be tucked away without being noticed.
And then further, we listen to people who talk about how they were “called” by God to speak to others about Jesus and we assume that this means that, because we feel afraid or that we want to be hidden, that these other people must be the ones who really are “called” to be a light in the open, to speak to others. And so therefore, we end up reverting to ideas like, “Well, if I just live like a Christian, people will know. That is my way of sharing my light.“
But that isn’t what Jesus says here. He explains that you cannot put your light under a bowl or under your bed. It isn’t meant for that. You aren’t meant to be hidden. You are meant to shine and to bring light to others. You are meant to be disclosed and to bring glory to God. This is the call of God, that all are called to live the life that God has made within them, in public. Yes, in deed, but most certainly also, in word.