Have you ever noticed the difference between the way Jesus preached and the way some people do today?
I have heard so many sermons and seen videos online where a passionate preacher lambasts his listeners with the “You are a miserable sinner” label.
This is not the way Jesus preached to the people who came to hear his message. He did acknowledge their need to repent, but he saw them through a different lens than that of “miserable sinner.”
Jesus told his listeners, “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)
That is a VERY different message. In fact, it’s just the opposite of being a miserable sinner. Jesus said that they were not part of the problem but part of the solution. He was encouraging them to think of themselves as a power for good in the present and the future. He was not dwelling in the past.
He wasn’t pretending we don’t have problems or that we haven’t sinned. But his focus was on who we are as God’s children and the potential that can be in our lives as we obey God in our daily interactions with the world.
What is the light of the world?
Light is energy. It does not generate itself but comes from a source. Light is invisible until it hits an object, then illuminates that object so we can see it. And in doing so, warmth is created, more or less depending on how bright and powerful the light is.
Jesus says we are the light of the world. Think of that. We are not just some bundle of flesh and bones.
We are actually light, spiritual light, which does not generate itself but comes from God. When we shine this light on someone or a situation, it helps us see things more clearly and respond with love instead of selfishness or fear.
Jesus also says of himself, “I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5) If we’re the light of the world, and so is Jesus, does that mean we are the same as Jesus? Of course not, but we’ll come back to that in a few minutes.
Light is meant to be seen
If you walk into your house late at night and there are no lights on, you would not walk over to the lamp, turn it on, then put it in the closet. The light is designed to be seen and light up our surroundings so we can see what’s around us.
Jesus says no one would put their oil lamp under a bushel basket. Instead, you put it somewhere visible to everyone. He makes the point that since we are the light of the world, we should not hide ourselves from the world.
Your light is not a personal possession just for your own benefit. It is meant to be shared with others. And you deserve to be blessed when others share their light with you.
Why then, are we sometimes so hesitant to get our light out from under its hiding place? Why are we so reluctant to share our faith and all that God has done for us?
If you had favorite brownie recipe that everyone loved, you would probably be delighted to share it with all your friends. Why? Because you know they would enjoy it. You have no doubt of how good those brownies are.
We usually don’t share our faith because we’re not sure we know how to. We feel inadequate and don’t want to turn someone off because we stumbled over our words. And sometimes, we’re just downright afraid of rejection.
But what would you do when you shared your brownie recipe, if someone said, “I don’t like brownies.”? Would you be offended? Would you go home and shut yourself in your room and swear you’d never share that brownie recipe again?
But letting your light shine does not mean going out on the street corners and trying to convert everyone that walks by. It’s about letting God’s love shine through every word and action. People notice this.
Jesus said we should let our light shine in a way that others notice all the good we’re doing and glorify God as a result. If we are letting our light shine in a way that brings all the glory to us, we’re not fulfilling Jesus’ command.
Don’t be afraid to let your light shine. It is a gift from God to the world. Who are you not to share it?
Light points out the path
Have you ever landed in an airport at night? There are lights on the runway to guide the pilots exactly where to land the plane.
Have you ever thought of yourself as that kind of guiding light?
When you are following the path Jesus has marked out, you are a light to others along the way. You may never know how you have helped guide others to make the right decisions and stay on the right path.
On one of my first jobs after graduating from college, I was a shift supervisor. Before I had been there, the professional atmosphere was pretty sketchy. People did the work, but many of them didn’t really take it too seriously. Slowly, I worked to establish standards of behavior. Not everyone liked it.
Looking back, I might have been a little too strict at times, but overall I was trying to improve the way we interacted with each other as well as the public, which was a big part of the job.
For two years I struggled to maintain and encourage others to maintain some higher performance standards. When I left that position for a job in another state, I wondered if I had made a difference at all. The guy who had been most opposed to me was promoted to my position not long after I left and I worried all my efforts had been for nothing.
A year later when I came back for a visit, I talked to a young man I didn’t know. He had been on the team I had supervised for several months. When I told him my name, he said with great emphasis, “Oh, I’ve heard all about you.”
I thought to myself, Oh no, here it comes. He’s going to tell me all the bad things he’s heard about me.
But on the contrary, he said he really admired the stand I had taken on many issues and that it had made a big difference on the team.
Wow, what a relief.
Looking back, I can see that I was being a light shining for others to see a better path to take. Not everyone wanted it at first, but it helped point things in the right direction for the future.
How can you be a light to others on the path of life to help direct their steps?
Lights can be a warning
Lights can tell you where to go, but they can also tell you where not to go. The most simple example is the stop light with its green, yellow, and red, telling us when it’s safe to go and when to stop.
Think of a buoy in a harbor with a flashing light telling ship captains that the water is too shallow for boats to pass. There are tons of other examples you can come up with.
As you let your light shine, as you live God’s love in your daily life, you not only help others know where to go, but where not to go.
I know of several former drug addicts who are no longer doing drugs and are helping people find healing from their addictions and discover their God-given freedom.
Maybe you have made some serious mistakes in your life, but have turned yourself around. You can be a spiritual light of warning, a voice of caution, to help others not make those same mistakes. And you can speak with authority from your own experience.
Never underestimate the influence for good when you let your light shine.
Jesus Christ is the light of the world
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). But then, when he is about to heal a blind man, he declares, “I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5)
How can we be the light of the world if Christ is?
The following analogy helps me sort through this question. Let’s say the sun represents God. All the light going out in every direction represents Christ. Every single ray of light, each going in a different direction, represents an individual child of God.
It’s not a perfect analogy, but it shows that we have the same source as Jesus does. He referred to God as his Father and our Father (see John 20:17).
We are not the whole light of the world, but we are each a ray of light, a ray of hope, a ray of Christly love shining out into God’s creation.
When Jesus proclaims we are the light of the world, he affirms what is true about him to be true about us. He expects us to follow his example in teaching, preaching, and healing. Without equivocation, he promises, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John14:12 ESV)
Jesus knows we are light, that we have the same divine source, God, that he does. He knows what we are capable of. He expects us to follow his example and let our light shine out into the whole world.
If someone isn’t receptive to your light, don’t let that stop you. Perhaps the one who didn’t accept your light will accept the light of the next person coming down the path.
So come out from under that bushel basket. Shine your light into the world. Don’t be surprised when it goes out blessing those you come in contact with.
Thanks for being a member of my blog family. I’d love to hear how you have let your light shine or how someone else’s light had helped you. Please leave me a note in the comment section below.
Many blessing to you as always,