“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck-measure but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praise worthy, noble and good deed, and recognize and honour and praise and glorify you Father who is in heaven” – Matthew 5:14-16.
It may be well said that this is the greatest compliment that was ever paid to the individual Christian, for in it Jesus commands the Christian to be what He himself claimed to be. Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” – John 9:5. When Jesus commanded His followers to be the lights of the world, He demanded nothing less than that they should be like Himself.
We must shine with the reflection of His light. The radiance which shines from the Christian comes from the presence of Christ within the Christian’s heart. We often speak about a radiant bride, but the radiance which shines from her comes from the love which has been born with her heart.
When Jesus said the Christian must be the light of the world, what did He mean?
- A light is first and foremost something which is meant to be seen. So, then, Christianity is something which is meant to be seen. As someone has well said, “There can be no such thing as secret discipleship, for either the secrecy destroys the discipleship, or the discipleship destroys the secrecy.” A man’s secrecy should be perfectly visible to all men. Further this Christianity should not be visible only within the Church, it should even be more visible in the ordinary activities of the world.
Our Christianity should be visible in the way we treat a shop attendant over the counter, in the way we treat our employees or serve our employer, in the way we treat motorists on the road, in the daily language we use etc. Jesus did not say, “You are the light of the Church”; He said, “You are the light of the world,” and in a man’s life in the world His Christianity should be evident to all.
- A light is a guide. On the estuary of any river we may see the line of the lights which marks the channel for the ships to sail in safety. We know how difficult it is to drive when there are no street lights. A light is something to make clear the way. So then as Christians we must make the way clear to others. One of the things which this world needs more than anything else is people who are prepared to be foci of goodness.
There are many people in this world who have not the moral strength and courage to take a stand by themselves, but if someone gives them a lead, they will follow, if they have someone strong enough to lean on, they will do the right thing.
- A light can often be a warning light. A light is often the warning which tells us to halt when there is danger ahead. It is sometimes our duty to bring to our fellow believer the necessary warning. If our warnings are given, not in anger, not in irritation, not in criticism, not in condemnation, not in the desire to hurt, but in love, they will be effective. The light which can be seen, the light which warns, the light which guides, these are the lights which the Christian must be.
ARE WE STILL A LIGHT TO THE WORLD
If we are not living as light of the world then, there could be at least four reasons for the breakdown:
- Lack of Doctrinal Clarity or Authority
The light of Christ was intended to illumine the truth about God – John 7:16-18; 8:3-32, but if we ourselves are still in the dark about what we believe, how can we then persuade others to believe. We cannot give what we ourselves do not have.
- Moral or Ethical Compromise
It is impossible to sustain a credible message about a pure and holy life if we ourselves are living in moral darkness – 1 John 1:5-6. God wants us to live a lifestyle that is morally attractive to unbelievers – Matt. 5:14-16; Titus 2:9-10.
- Disunity or a Lack of Love for Other Believers
Perhaps nothing undermines the mission of the church more than internal conflict. The world would never believe in Christ’s message of love if His followers are at war with each other. Jesus was fully aware of this when He prayed for the unity of His people “I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are. I in them and you in me, all being perfected into one. Then the world will know that you sent me and will understand that you love them as much as you love me”- John 17:22-23 (NLT).
- A Lost Passion for Evangelism and Mission
The task of bringing the message of God’s salvation is still unfinished. We should not be satisfied that the mission has basically been completed, or that someone else will do it, or that the message has become irrelevant. If we do that then the light of Christ will go no further. Never forget that someone brought Christ into the midst of your own spiritual darkness. Is there any credible reason why you should not introduce someone else to His grace?
When Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others,” that wasn’t the whole sentence. He went on to give the reason why it’s important to shine: “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16b). Our goal should never be to bring recognition to ourselves, but to bring glory to God. There’s a fine line between being a light and putting on a show to get attention. It’s a matter of the heart.
We are the Light of the world. We should let our light shine!
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