Summary: Jesus’ followers are, by their very character, the light of the world. They, like He, will do the same works He did--even greater.
A Thousand Points of Light
13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Darkness of south central LA
❏ Teenage gangs roam the streets–everyone lives in fear
❏ Drugs are available everywhere
❏ Prostitutes are on most street corners
❏ Violence abounds
❏ Crime is running rampant–there is darkness, gross darkness–a living hell!
Yet, in the midst of all this evil a light shines! On one of the corners a neon light above a building glows with the words, VICTORY OUTREACH! It’s a ministry devoted to reaching out to drug addicts, alcoholics and street people. Its headed up by a former gang leader who was converted to Christ.
He, along with a meager staff house about 40 men at a time in an atmosphere of peace and purpose, while chaos reigns in the streets.
Outside can be heard the sounds of darkness–gun shots, police and fire sirens, men and women laughing and cursing and screaming. But from within Victory Outreach comes the sound of hymn singing.
When I read about this, I thought it’s a “point of light.” Do you remember how President George Bush (sr.) used this phrase in his speeches? He was describing community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good.
This “point of light” in south central LA not only engages in evangelism but also attempts to help those who are enslaved to chemicals and other masters, break loose and in turn become salt and light.
Its not far a drive to Beverly Hills from south central LA. What a contrast! This is the world of “Entertainment Tonight” where everyone is fit, famous, and fabulous.
And here on a corner, towering over the traffic, is a huge sign that serves as well as anything to define life: LIFE IS SHORT. PLAY HARD. Its only an ad for Reeboks, but its such a short distance from a neighborhood where people are dying every day because they have lived out the logical consequences of that mind set.
Life is short. Play hard. Grab all the gusto you can. Whoever dies with the most toys wins. These supposedly harmless slogans summarize a world-view that says, “This life is all there is.” But we know better, don’t we?
In these two neighborhoods the choice is very clear: Either we remain blinded by the bright light of the world that masks a heart of darkness or we choose the Light that dispels the darkness.
Darkness - Light. Jesus had something to say about these. He said, I am the light of the world. He said it to the Pharisees. He went on to say, Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.
Light is one of the great metaphorical themes running through the Bible. In the beginning of creation, God said, “Let there be light.” Then in the book of Revelation, we read about the Eternal City which is bathed in the light of God.
Jesus was the Light who had been prophesied for centuries. He was to be the revelation of truth to nonbelievers. And in Matthew 5 He charged His disciples, You are the light of the world. Then He added, A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
His followers are, He said, by their very character, the light of the world. They will do the same works He did–even greater ones.
The key thing about light is that its radiance can best be seen in the darkest places. What we do emerges from who we are. Being precedes doing. In Acts 1:8, just before Jesus’ ascension, He told His disciples:
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Please notice that He said we would be His witnesses. It reminds me of the words of Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel all the time; if necessary, use words.”