YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
“You are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:14.
But, wait a minute! I thought Jesus said that He is the light of the world. Yes, He did.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12.
What is this light He’s talking about? Jesus isn’t talking about a literal light, like a flashlight or a street light. He’s talking about showing people the right way to live so that they “walk” in the right direction, i.e., towards God and eternal life. He’s talking about enlightenment – helping people to understand how God wants us to live by watching Him. When we live God’s way, we are at peace with God and with people, and also with ourselves.
If Jesus is the light of the world, how can we also be the light of the world? Jesus is the source of the light and we are the reflection of the light. The sun is the source of light for the earth, and the moon reflects that light, shining at night to give light to the earth. When we follow Jesus and do what He did, we reflect Him and shine His light where we are.
“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 works and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:15-16.
It is silly to hide a light when it has been switched on or a lamp when it is lit. Why would we want to do that? Again it sounds as though Jesus is contradicting Himself. He told His disciples not to parade their good works in front of people.
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 6:1.
Jesus is not talking about being generous but about the reason for doing good works? Are you being kind to be people because you want to be known as a good person or because you want to please your heavenly Father? If it’s to please people, that’s all the reward you will get.
At the same time, it is impossible to be kind to people and not to be noticed. The word Jesus used for a city can also mean a battle. A battle took place when Jesus was “lifted up”, an alternative meaning for “a hill”. What was the battle that Jesus fought and won when He was lifted up on the cross? He won the battle to redeem us from slavery to sin so that we can be restored to God’s family as His sons and daughters. He has given us His nature – gracious, compassionate, and merciful – so that we can treat people like He does, with love, generosity and kindness.
That’s not the way the people in the world behave. Sin makes people greedy and selfish which leads them to do all kinds of terrible things to one another. Jesus died to save us from destroying ourselves through being selfish and greedy and to give us new hearts that are full of love for Him and for people.
When we live like that, we are the light that reflects His light and the people around us cannot help noticing that we are different. They also cannot help realising that we cannot change ourselves. Only God can change our hearts. When we show love and kindness to other people, God gets the glory because He did it through us.
Now that’s what a true disciple is – someone who reflects Jesus’ light by following Him and doing what He does!
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.