“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)
Think of a very familiar room, perhaps a bedroom or a living room. You walk through this room every day, but this time is different. You must traverse from one end of this room to the other in absolute darkness. Suddenly you’re disoriented. The same familiar footsteps are now filled with caution, lest you trip or bump into something on your way. Light makes all the difference.
Jesus is the light of the world. He is the God who said “let there be light” and he enlightens us with his love and forgiveness. Often when we think of enlightenment, with think of it only as a personal thing that accompanies our salvation. In this case, the enlightenment is only for our benefit. It doesn’t really work that way. Jesus doesn’t shine his light on us so that we can keep it for ourselves. He enlightens us so that we can see our way through this treacherous world and shine His light on all that we meet.
Here’s how it works. Our sinful world is like that room, filled with obstacles, hazards and general mayhem. When we try to walk through that room in the dark, we naturally bump into things and find it to be a difficult experience. The world is a broken sinful place and most of it seems hidden from us. We only know it when we keep bumping into it, when life gets tough and decisions go wrong and people betray… but we don’t know why. We’re in the dark.
Turning the lights on doesn’t make the mess go away. But it does help us navigate around the mess and know where to clean up. When Jesus shines his light into us, he gives us forgiveness and opens our eyes so that we can see the world around us for what it is, a mess! We can see the temptations, the brokenness and the dysfunction, and hopefully avoid them. We can see the injustice, the pain and the strife, and bring mercy and love. We can see God at work through others, and do our part. It only happens with the lights on.
Too many people live in the darkness and pay a heavy price for it. So, be the light of the world. Shine Jesus’ light into their lives. Love them sacrificially. Tell them the truth with gentleness. Be there for them when everyone else abandons. Live a joy-filed life and be contagious. Shine. Perhaps, by God’s grace, He will turn on the lights for them too.