“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 give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)
Yesterday, as part of the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed that those who are His disciples are the salt of the earth. That is, they preserve the world’s inevitable decline. This is a great responsibility. Today He expands that responsibility by saying that we are the light of the world.
Whereas the effects of salt are not readily observable, light is very noticeable. When Jesus spoke of salt He was referring to our indirect influence on the world around us – mainly through our actions. When He speaks now of light, He is referring to our direct communication of the gospel. This is exactly how Jesus lived. Jesus affected the world around Him by what He did and what He said [Luke 1:1].
Verbally declaring the gospel is meaningless if our lifestyle does not support it. Likewise, simply living godly lives without explaining why has no influence.
If we study the life of Jesus we notice that His entire ministry was very public. He taught others about God in public places. He healed people in public places. Everything He did was witnessed by many (sometimes thousands) people. He was God walking and living among men for the purpose of directing them to Himself.
That is why Christians are commanded (this is not optional) to let their light shine before others. We are not to hide our light (put it under a basket). A light that is hidden is useless. Light must be seen to have any benefit. God commands us to let others know that we are His children. If you are a true follower of Jesus, there should be no one in your life who does not know it by observing your actions and words.
Light illuminates and provides guidance. That is why we have street lights. They illuminate the road so we can get where we need to go. This world is driving down an unlit road. This can only result in disaster. When God’s children live according to the beatitudes [Matthew 5:3-12] we show people the way to our Father who is in heaven. Heaven is where people need to go.
When we live like this we give glory to [our] Father. The purpose of the lives of God’s children is to cause others to notice God. This is not for God’s sake – God has no ego. Rather, this is for their sake. People need God. They cannot, and will not, find anything good anywhere else.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.