Summary: What Jesus said about our responsibility to light up the world in which we live. .
What Jesus Said About Our Lights
Matt. 5:13-16 “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
In His beatitudes in His Sermon on the Mount Jesus uses two very precise and powerful metaphors to teach us the importance or our influence in the world in which we live. These analogies clearly and concisely describe the positive as well as the negative possibilities of the Christian’s influence. We have examined, “ What Jesus Said About Our Saltiness.” Let us look at, “What Jesus About Our Lights.”
Light, the symbolic object in His second metaphor, was very important in first century Palestine, as it is in every day and time. The role of light throughout the Old and New Testaments is clear. The Creator gave light from the beginning. It is significant that He was, is and always will be Light. A number of stories in the Old Testament center upon the essentiallity of light in man’s continuing existence.
The basic definition of light is important in understanding this metaphor. Light is the absence of darkness and darkness is the total absence of light. There is really no in between. Einstien’s laws of basic physics inform us that light can ultimately be equated with energy and mass. I am sure the Creator and Teacher gave us this expansive symbol as well to help us understand our responsibilities relative to the essential nature of our influence for good or evil. His command: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” makes this abundantly clear.
AS LIGHT, CHRISTIANS ARE TO PENETRATE THE DARKNESS OF THIS WORLD. The metaphor is quite clear. We are to function to bring heavenly spiritual light into the dark recesses of our world. It is significant that Jesus makes an emphatic statement. He does not say we should be the light of the world. He makes it clear
that by virtue of our relationship to Him, we are already lights in the world in which we live. He informs us that we are already on prominent and public display. It is not a matter of whether or not our lights will shine, but how effectively we will light the world around us for grace and good. If we allow the brightness and brilliance of our lights to be darkened or hidden by sin, apathy or the cares and concerns of this world, we are hindering our Saviour’s intention for our lives.
Those reared in earlier times when kerosene lamps were common, knew the importance of keeping the glass chimneys of such lights clean. Dirt and soot built up quickly. The light emanating from the lamp would gradually dim. Regular cleaning was essential. The spiritual parallel is clear. Regular and contrite confession of sin and a drawing nigh to the Light source is absolutely necessary, if our lights are to shine as brightly possible. Each time I think of our Savior’s statement here, I think of our church building. It is set high upon a hill. At night, our flood light makes it visible to tens of thousands of automobiles passing up and down the M1 Motorway. This has a positive and prominent effect. When I have occasion to introduce myself as the pastor of our church in my door knocking or in every day life, it is common for someone to say something like this, “You mean that beautiful “old style” church building on the Motorway? The one that is illuminated at night? Every time I pass by I notice it and it makes me feel good that it is there.” Let us pray that our spiritual lights, individually and collectively, will always have a similar positive impact upon the world around us.
But I also think of a secondary impact of the light that illuminates our church. We need the light to reduce the risk of burglary or vandalism since we are rather isolated on acreage. This function is focused upon by other words of Jesus: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21) These words define in a wonderful way the dual purpose of our light. Light keep those with the evil intent of burglars and vandals away. But the true Light also draws people to the One who is the Truth and the Light.