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The Seventh Step to Heaven on Earth: Enlightenment (Video)

A friend posted on Facebook, “Don’t pray ‘Our Father’ on Sunday and live like an orphan the whole week.” I think that’s both funny and enlightening! It triggers a question about how often I live like an orphan during the week. Are you aware of how many days of the week you live like an orphan?

Even as a pastor, I noticed that I have orphan-like moments even though I am primarily busy preparing for Sunday, small groups, prayer groups, personal devotions, and meeting with believers. I can imagine that it must be hard to maintain the consciousness of being children of God for those who spend time with God only on Sundays.

It reminds me of Boney M.’s song, “Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child.” I wonder how many people feel like orphans during this prolonged pandemic, especially when away from the church.

“Don’t pray ‘Our Father’ on Sunday and live like an orphan the whole week.” See, a simple statement like that could kindle a series of enlightening thoughts bringing awareness to something you have never noticed or forgotten.

Enlightenment is awareness. Some are just small awareness, and others can be life-changing. It’s like a lighthouse shining into the sea, bringing awareness to the danger and attention to the location. Sometimes, awareness comes early, and other times, it comes late, like a rude awakening. So, we want enlightenment to come as soon as possible.

Everyone wants enlightenment because, without it, you feel like groping in the dark. We live in a fallen world swimming in the sea of suffering. Enlightenment makes life easier and allows us to stay afloat or walk on water.

The English word “Enlightenment” has a double meaning: it means the state of being enlightened, as well as the action of enlightening. It means learning as well as teaching. When you learn, you get enlightened, and when you teach, you enlighten others. That double meaning is also quite enlightening!

You can only reach a limited level of enlightenment by learning. Sooner or later, you must teach in order to learn. Teaching is a form of learning. When you study for Ph.D., you are required to teach about 120 hours to graduate. Teaching enlightens you deeper and broader.

As a Teaching Elder, I have been teaching for over 26 years now, and I feel incredibly grateful for what I learn by teaching. If I were to start over, I would do it again, even without pay. You can’t put the price on enlightenment. I would encourage anyone to teach. I started teaching Sunday School when I was in high school. That’s when I realize the value of teaching.

So, I encourage you to pick up opportunities to teach—Sunday School, Small Group, Support Group, preaching on the pulpit, mission trips, or whatever provides you with the teaching opportunities. It’s for your enlightenment.

We have covered six steps to heaven on earth in the previous six lessons, primarily by learning or enlightening yourself. Now, it’s time for you to enlighten others to enlighten yourself further. How do you enlighten others? Let’s unpack what Jesus taught us in his seventh blessing from the Beatitudes.

[Hi, in case we haven’t met yet, I am Sam Stone—the Lightkeeper! You are the light of the world, and I am the keeper! (No pun intended). It’s my calling to help you shine your brightest so that God is glorified in you, and you are satisfied in God.]

Today, we will focus on the seventh blessing in the Beatitudes. It’s from the Gospel According to Matthew 5:9. [Listen to the Word of the Lord!]

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Mt 5:9).

[This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!]

The term “peacemaker” appears only once in the Bible here. This term “εἰρηνοποίος” rarely appeared in other first-century literature. So we don’t have many references for this word from contemporary documents to provide a straightforward interpretation. Philo, the first-century philosopher, addressed God as the “Peacemaker.” So, it’s understandable peacemakers are called children of God.

Some people simplistically interpret this statement as Jesus was advocating pacifism. Peacemaker is not a passive term but an active term, carrying a sense of proactively seeking reconciliation. Peacemakers are not antiwar but pro-reconciliation.

Remember, during the Fifth Step, we talked about forgiveness. The forgiveness Jesus taught us is not passively forgiving others because it only hurt yourself by holding grudges. True forgiveness is forgiving despite having the power to retaliate. It’s keeping your sword in its sheath.

In the same way, peacemaking is not antiwar but pro-reconciliation. The Bible says,

“God has given us the ministry of reconciliation … So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor 5:18b, 20).

So peacemaking is reconciliation. We know the Bible describes Jesus as the Prince of Peace who reconciled us with God. As ambassadors for Christ, you are a peacemaker. He is saying, by doing so, you share the same heavenly Father with him and become a brother or sister of him.

The question is, how do we perform the ministry of reconciliation? How do we be peacemakers? You cannot force reconciliation because forced reconciliation is not genuine reconciliation. It leads to a cold war that continues to fight in darkness.

Jesus brought about reconciliation by shining the light into the darkness. Jesus said,

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12b).

He is the source of enlightenment, not just through his teaching but also through his life, death, and resurrection. The empty cross continues to shed light on people and kindle reconciliation. He has given you the ministry of enlightenment as ambassadors for Christ. Right after the Beatitudes, he said,

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” (Mat 5:14-15).

That means the Beatitudes are not only for your enlightenment but also for you to enlighten others. If you don’t know what to teach others, do like Jesus did, starting with the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are packed with light; the more you enlighten others with the Beatitudes, the more you get enlightened.

There are five principles of enlightenment, and I put them together in an acrostic LIGHT.

1. Love Them

After the resurrection, Jesus commissioned us to make disciples of all nations. Disciples are followers of the light. To make disciples, you must love them as Jesus loved his disciples. Jesus said,

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (John 13:34).

John Maxwell said, “If you don’t love them, you can’t lead them.” Jesus would say, “If you don’t love them, you cannot enlighten them. I know some people just love to teach without caring about whom they teach. If you talk and no one listens, you are not teaching but just mumbling. There is a saying,

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

So, before enlightening others, ask God to equip you with love. John said,

“Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling.” (1 Jn 2:9–10).

Without love, there is no light to shine. The previous six steps should prepare you with love. If you find yourself dry and dark, review those steps. So first, kindle your light by igniting your love before enlightening others.

2. Ignite Them

Enlightenment is not just to show off your light but also to ignite the dormant hearts. Jesus sees us as dormant lights. Even before we shine, Jesus recognizes us as the light of the world that need rekindling.

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. … In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:14, 16).

In Jesus’ eyes, we are like hidden jewals waiting to be discovered. Even when he was on the cross, he still saw the potential in us. He said,

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).

In the prayer, Jesus implies that we are not innocent but ignorant. Ignorant is the opposite of enlightenment. He asked God to forgive our ignorant. After the resurrection, many of them have their spiritual vision restored. They are enlightened.

Don’t worry if some people don’t click. Even Jesus couldn’t enlighten some of them, including one of his own disciples, Judas Iscariot. Our job is to ignite and be patient. Some people are late bloomers, and we will not see our harvest as soon as we hope. Some people may flame up for a moment and die out. Don’t give up, just as Jesus never gives up on us.

3. Grace Them

By grace, I am talking about the grace of God. What makes Christianity different from all other religions is the amazing grace. When we pray, we often begin by addressing God as “Gracious and loving God.” John said,

“From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (Jn 1:16–17).

Grace is what makes Jesus shine. Law is important, but it binds us. Grace and truth are what sets us free. There is a subtle difference between grace and mercy. Grace is when God gives us something we don’t deserve, and mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve.

For example, we don’t deserve forgiveness, but God gives us anyway through grace. On the other hand, we do deserve punishment, but God does not give us the punishment out of mercy.

Grace touches people’s hearts more than anything else. There are 2.3 billion Christians around the world, not because they fear God’s punishment but because God’s grace touches their hearts.

Almost everyone in the world knows how to sing Amazing Grace because that is the song of enlightenment. So, practice grace, and it will make you shine.

4. Hear Them

Sometimes, you don’t have to say a word to enlighten people. All you have to do is listen, but we must know that listening and hearing are quite different. Some people listen but do not hear because their minds are elsewhere or thinking about what to say next. James said,

You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (James 1:19).

There is a reason God gives us two ears and one mouth. We need to listen twice as much as we talk. Sometimes, we find our own enlightenment just by talking to someone. It’s like thinking out loud but in front of a set of ears.

There is a listening method called “Active Listening.” It teaches you to listen and make sure the person feels heard. Active Listening requires you to mirror what you heard to the person back and ask, “Did I hear it right?” until the other person says, “Yes, that’s right.” This method can be very helpful in inducing enlightenment.

Men and women are also different when it comes to talking. Women often talk to express their thoughts. They don’t expect you to solve their problems; they just want your ears. However, when a man listens to a woman talk, his mind wonders how to solve her problem. As a result, she doesn’t feel heard.

Men are from Mars, and women are from Venus. Sometimes, all you need to do is pair two people of the same gender to hear them out.

5. Teach Them

This one is straightforward. As mentioned, teaching does not only enlighten people but also enlighten yourself. Teaching allows you to refine your thoughts and expose the wrong theories. It also forces you to discover new things. Jesus said in the Great Commission,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:18–20).

God commissioned you to enlighten people of all nations and immerse them into the community of grace. The last verse says, “and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The word “remember” is not in the original Greek text, and it says “behold.”

It implies that when you teach, you see Jesus is with you. He is there with you always to the end of the age, but if you want to see him by you, teach. Teach what? Teach everything he has taught you.

There are many modes of teaching. You don’t have to always stand in front of people to teach. You can write to teach. Paul wrote many letters when he was in prison, which became the main part of the New Testament. If God did not put him in prison, we might not have the New Testament.

Your writing can pass down to generations to come and continue to enlighten people who read it. So, if you are more comfortable writing, write what you want to teach.

You can also teach by recording your voice on a recorder and publishing it as podcasts. By the way, in case you don’t know, my weekly sermons are available on podcasts. If you don’t want to see my clumsy face but just listen to the message, download my podcast on your favorite podcast app.

The point is you can be creative in your teaching. You can also teach by arts and crafts, songs and poems, or painting and photography. Or you can simply post a piece of quote that says, “Don’t pray ‘Our Father’ on Sunday and live like an orphan the whole week.” Someone like me would find it enlightening.

There you have it. The five principles of enlightenment—LIGHT:

1. Love Them
2. Ignite Them
3. Grace Them
4. Hear Them
5. Teach Them

Let’s put them into practice to enlighten the world as we are enlightened and behold the presence of Christ among us.

Enlightenment is not the final step to Heaven on Earth as you might expect. The moment you shine your light, the forces of darkness will try to put you out. You may have seen many people rise to stardom but shine like a comet for only a brief moment and get swallowed by darkness. So, Jesus has another blessing for us to receive—Endurance. Coming up next week—Endurance, the Eighth and Final Step to Heaven on Earth.

That’s it for today. I hope you find this message illuminating as much as I enjoy receiving it from the Head Office. Until we meet again, keep your light shining brighter and broader, and harvest the fruit of profound happiness.

Amen!