Summary: We are called to be the light of the world.
About a month ago, I was up here talking about us being the Salt of the Earth, and what that actually means. Today, we are going to continue on from there to the next part of this message from Jesus in his sermon on the mount. Let’s open our bibles to:
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
In this message, Jesus is telling us that we are the lights of the world. It is also important to note that this is not just a suggestion. The translation of “Let your light shine” comes from the single Greek word, lampsato. This word is an imperative, meaning it is a command. Sounds good, but do we really understand the significance of that? First, let’s take a quick look at John 8:12. Here, Jesus is teaching people in a temple at the Mount of Olives. He tells them:
“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."
So in this passage Jesus is calling himself the light of the world and calls us the light of the world in Matthew 5:14. Might have a little bit of significance, right? You see, it is Jesus’ light within us that we are supposed to be sharing with others.
The importance of light
The first thing God created after the heavens and the Earth was light. Let’s look at Genesis 1:1-4:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
Here we see the necessity of light as God begins to prepare the Earth for our existence. When God speaks to people or when angels appear before people, there is usually a bright light involved. In Acts, when Saul is traveling to Damascus, he is blinded by the light as Jesus speaks to him. Throughout the bible, we continue to see the significance of light. So being called to be the light of the world should be taken seriously, right?
That being the case, why is it that the numbers of Christians in the world is dropping? Currently, 33% of the world’s population are Christian, while 21% are Muslim. While the percentage of Muslims are rising, the percentage of Christians in the world is slowly declining. In fact, it is expected that the world’s major religion will shift from Christianity to Islam sometime in the 21st century. Folks, we live in the 21st century. We need to answer God’s call and be the light of the world.
The functions of light
Light shows the way
Talk about driving in the dark and about walking in a cave without a flashlight.
A flashlight illuminates the night so that we can walk safely. A lighthouse warns ships that land is near, so they can avoid a perilous crash. A candle brightens the darkest of caves. And Jesus’ light shatters the darkness of evil.
In the book of John, Chapter 12 we read:
Verse 35 Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going.
Verse 46 I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.
Light helps things to grow
As we saw in Genesis, God created light before he started shaping the Earth and bringing in the plants and animals. Why? Have you ever seen a plant grow without sunlight? In fact, there are some parasitic plants that can go their whole lives without light; but there is a catch. They get their food from other host plants that do require sunlight. So no matter what, plants cannot survive without sunlight. They need the light to grow.
The same goes for us as Christians; as the light within us burns, we grow closer in our relationship to God. But that requires effort doesn’t it? Have you ever seen a wood fire last throughout the night without somebody adding fire to it? Have you ever seen a candle continue to burn when the wick is all gone? No, we have to make an effort to keep Jesus’ light burning within us. And as we make that effort, as we read our bible and study on it, as we spend time in prayer, and as we spend time being who Jesus has called us to be, our light continues to grow stronger and we continue to grow.