Basket Case Christians

Bible Book: Matthew  5 : 15
Subject: Evangelism; Witnessing; Light of the World; Soul Winning

Basket Case Christians

Dr. J. Mike Minnix
Matthew 5:15

As a boy Robert Louis Stevenson was intrigued by the work of the old lamplighter who went about with a ladder and a torch, setting the street lights ablaze for the night. One evening in Edinburgh, Scotland, as young Robert stood watching with childish fascination, his parents heard him exclaim, “Look, look! There is a man out there punching holes in the darkness!” That was a pretty good indication that even at an early age Stevenson was going to have a gift for using words.

Punching holes in the darkness – isn’t that what God has called us to do as believers? If we are to penetrate the darkness with the light of Jesus Christ, we must uncover the light that He has placed in us. In Matthew 5:15, we read these words from our Lord: “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (NKJV)

Too many Christians are basket case believers - they are covering up the light which the Lord has provided and that which He told us to share with a dark world. I think that perhaps the crowd listening to Jesus when he made these remarks might have laughed. It was incongruous that a person would light an oil lamp and then cover it up with a basket. Christ was using the divine sense of humor to make a serious point.

In the days of the scripture we have read tonight, light was a very important resource. Of course, it is important today as well; however, it is abundant in our time and it was not so back then. We have lights in our homes, our churches, from flashlights, key chains, street lights, head lights on our cars, and even light on our smart phones. I don’t know about you, but a couple of times I have used the light from my phone to see where I was going when in a dark spot.

In the days of Jesus, most homes did not even have windows, so even in the daylight hours a lamp was required to be lit indoors for people to see what they were doing and where they were going. At night it was brutally dark. Most of us have flown on airplanes across cities in the nighttime hours, and it is truly amazing to see how many lights there are below. It is almost impossible for us to imagine how dark it was at night in the time when Jesus was upon the earth. There were no street lights or lights emitting from nearby homes. Dark hours were truly dark. Jesus was showing just how foolish it would be for a person to light an oil lamp only to then place a woven basket over it.

The point here is that Jesus is the light and we have His light in us. We are to reflect that light to a world in darkness. We are in essence, like the moon. We have no light of our own to give spiritual clarity to a lost, dark world, but Christ is the Light in us. He must never be covered up as we live in this world of gray, Satanic shadows.

It is true that creating light is costly. My father worked for Duke Power for almost forty years, which is now Duke Energy. When I was a boy, he would say to my brother and to me, “Turn off the lights boys; I work for the power company but I don’t own it.” Power is expensive to produce, to deliver and to enjoy.

I heard about a hired hand who worked on a farm. He would light a kerosene lantern to carry along with him when he sent to see his girlfriend. The owner of the farm was a tight-fisted man who hated to waste money. The owner said to the farm hand, “Why are you using up kerosene when you go see your girlfriend? When I was dating my wife, I went to see her in the dark.” The hired hand said, “Yes, and look at the wife you got!” Light may be costly, but it is necessary. The most costly light in the world is the light Jesus gave us. It cost Him His blood at Calvary. We must never cover it up.

You and I are to be reflectors of God’s light. We don’t have any light except that which He gives us. We don’t share light to show who we are but to show who He is! When I turn on a lamp in my house, I never say, “Wow, what a beautiful light bulb.” In fact, the bulb never calls attention to itself. The light is to reveal that which we cannot see without it. We are to give witness to the work, love and nature of Jesus so that others may come to know Him.

How is it that we place a basket over the light of Jesus in our lives?

I. We place a basket of the Light by not FOLLOWING Jesus

Deitrich Bonhoeffer, who was put to death by the Nazis in WWII because of his stand for Christ wrote, “A community of Jesus which seeks to hide itself has ceased to follow Him.” When we do not reveal Him in our walk and our words, we can be sure we are not truly follow the Master.

Many of us do not act like we know Jesus. We do not reflect His joy and peace in our lives. One little boy was in church and saw the images of people within the stained glass windows. He asked his mother, “Who are those people?” His mother replied, “They are saints.” The boy smiled and said, “O, I see. Saints are people that let the light shine through.” Sadly, many of us fail to do that.

One lady was asked if she was a Christian. She replied, “No, I’m sad enough as it is.” We are to follow Jesus so faithfully that a peace and joy exudes from us. Trust me, the world offers a joy that it cannot deliver, but it is packaged so smartly that people fall in line to obtain it. We have the joy and peace they need, but we package it often in the drab garbs of sadness and religious meanness.

I want to tell you something tonight that has troubled me for some time. The people of God have begun in the last 25 to 30 years to talk a lot more about what they are against than about the One we are for. The world knows what we find offensive, but I’m not sure they know much about the One we find as the Friend closer than a brother. If you and I had walked with Jesus when He was on earth, we would have noticed that He spent a lot less time talking about what he hated about the world’s moral behavior and a lot more about the God who loved them. I find so much about this world to disturb me today. Sometimes I shudder at what our culture accepts as normal behavior, but I know the answer is not more morality in this world. The answer is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! I know we must speak up and speak out about moral and social issues, it’s just that so much less time is spent speaking about the saving grace of Christ. Jesus is not just the Light in the dark streets of sin, He is the light of hope for the seeking heart.

We must renew a close walk with Jesus if we expect to penetrate the darkness that is around us. We must so love Him and reflect Him that the world will be drawn to the light. I am not saying that we can’t or shouldn’t call sin by its name, but I can assure you that the world is enjoying its sin. The problem is they don’t realize that sin only has pleasure for a season. Jesus offers abundant joy, full of glory, now and forever. We will not win them by telling them how awful they are, but can win them by revealing to them how wonderful Jesus is! We can only do that when we truly follow our Lord closely, faithfully and lovingly.

II. We place a basket over the Light when we are FEARFUL

When we are fearful of sharing Jesus with others, we close off the Ligth of the World to those in darkness.

When I was a boy, we used to sing a little song that went like this:

“This little light of mine,
I’m going to let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, let shine, let it shine.”

Then we would sing this verse:

“Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m going to let it shine.”

Sadly, many are hiding the light under a basket because they are afraid to witness to the lost. Fear of man indicates a lack of fear for God. A proper fear of God keeps us from fearing man. The disciples were fearful until the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and then they feared no one.

They preached like Peter.

Peter denied Jesus when He in the hands of the enemy, but He stood to preach Him faithfully after the Holy Spirit had filled him at Pentecost.

They testified like Stephen.

Stephen knew the danger he was in when he gave testimony to the true Savior. Even dying, he was not fearful. He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

The witnessed like Paul

On one occasion Paul was stoned and left for dead. When his friends found him, they thought he was dead, but Paul stirred himself, brushed off the dirt from the stones and went right back to the town where he had been stoned to share the gospel. The Spirit of God gave those early disciples fearlessness in sharing their faith.

A basket is a good example of fear. You see, a basket was used in biblical days as an object of work. People used them to carry grain from the fields. They were used to carry clothes down to the river or well for washing. A basket was used to go the market to buy vegetables. When you and I think that witnessing is our work, we are fearful. When we realize that it is God’s work through us, we become bold.

We don’t get to see God’s miracles of salvation unless we trust Him to be with us. Fear keeps us from reflecting His light.

III. We fail to reflect His light when we are FRETFUL

Consumed by a passion for world domination, Alexander the Great sought the crown of conquest.

Consumed by a passion for power, Julius Caesar sought the crown of political authority.

Consumed with a passion for praise, Cicero sought the crown of public opinion.

Consumed with a passion for tradition, Cato sought the crown of influence.

Consumed with a passion for pleasure, Mark Anthony sought the crown of personal indulgence.

These leaders fretted and worried over their own power, pleasure and position. Today they are in the dustbin of history. But there was another man who was consume.

Consumed with a passion for Christ, Paul the Apostle sought the crown of a soul winner. Think today about what consumes you. Will it matter a hundred years from now? We fret over stuff that means nothing while placing a basket of the light of Jesus in us. Paul won the crown and his work was not in vain. A passion for souls is what we need – it is what Jesus desires in us. We must get the basket off the Light and allow Him to shine through us.


In 1904, King Edward VII invited William Booth to Buckingham Palace. He said to Booth, you are doing a good work with the Salvation Army. He then asked him to write in his autograph album. Booth, now 75 years of age, bent forward, took the pen, and summed up his life’s work:

Your Majesty,
Some men’s ambition is art,
Some men’s ambition is fame,
Some men’s ambition is gold,
My ambition is souls of men. [from Salvation Army Website]

It has to be our ambition to lead people to Jesus or it will never happen. It must be purposeful. It must be deliberate. It must be done in love and care. It may begin with a simple invitation to church. It can go on to being a friend to someone who needs you. Then, God will take your witnessing circle and open the opportunity for you to tell someone what Jesus means to you and to invite that person to turn to Christ just as you have.

Woody Allen once said, “I’m afraid of the dark but suspicious of the light.”

Our job is not to curse the darkness but spread the light. The world may be suspicious of the light but the true Light will take away the fear of the dark and lift the suspicion of the human heart.