Matt. 5:14-16 - "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. In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
My children are fascinated with light. For instance, my 4-year-old daughter has a strand of small, pink, paper stars attached to a string of white christmas lights above her bed to dispel some of the darkness at night. She also has a toy turtle with an inner light that projects an assortment of constellations on her ceiling.
As I considered what text to write about this week, God kept bringing me back to Jesus' words in Matthew 5 about how Christians are lights in the world. There are three points I would like to emphasize this week from this text:
1. The necessity of lights implies the existence of darkness.
"You are the light of the world." The point above may sound like I'm stating the obvious. However, there are times when I need to be reminded that unbelievers in the world around me are going to think and act and speak...like unbelievers, and I shouldn't be shocked when they do (even if they are supreme court justices). Disappointed? Yes. Curled up in the fetal position in the corner? Absolutely not.
People of the world will endorse and engage in worldly behavior. Consider how Paul described the moral condition of the world in Phil. 2:15. He said it was "crocked and twisted" among whom believers shine "as lights in the world". Until Jesus returns, this world will continue to exist with people of the world doing worldly and morally dark things, necessitating the light of believers reflecting the radiant glory of God.
2. Lights are meant to benefit those within their proximity.
Jesus reminds us of the purpose of light, to enable those in its presence to see. "It gives light to all in the house". This teaches us that God intends for believers to be a spiritual and moral influence for good to the non-believers around them.
As we interact with those in the world believers need to humbly remember that we ourselves were once "alienated from God, darkened in our understanding" (Eph. 4:18). We need to humbly remember that the forgiveness, atonement and sanctification we are offering to others in the gospel of Jesus are things that we too are grateful recipients of. If we don't humbly remember all of this we will end up like the OT prophet Jonah, outwardly speaking the oracles of God while inwardly harboring a prideful condescension.
3. Courageously shine in the midst of darkness and bring glory to God.
"...they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." If we can remember all God has done for us in Jesus, it will enable us to fulfill God's purpose, that we reflect his glory and draw others to him. Our goal is not to simply prove a point or win an argument. Our goal is to highlight the holiness of our majestic God in order to lead others to know him! Remember the impressive declaration of Nebuchadnezzar after Daniel repeatedly reflected the radiance of God's glory while he was a captive in Babylon (Dan. 4:34-35)? This was a result of Daniel humbly yet consistently shining as a light in a dark world.
No matter where you live, or how spiritually or morally dark the world around you becomes, as followers of The Light of the world, we should never forget that light wins (John 11:5)! Actually, He has already won. So gracefully and confidently let your light shine before others.