June 27 I Wednesday
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” —Matthew 5:14
Jesus’s statement, “You are the light of the world” is particularly interesting since He said much later in His ministry, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). However, He soon qualifies that by saying, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). The implication is clear: “What I am while I am here, in terms of bringing illumination to the world, you will be when I am not here.”
How, then, are we to be this light? It is not by imitation but by derivation. If it were by imitation, then we would have to be the source of our produced light, but we are unable to produce any spark on our own. This means it must be by derivation from an outside source. Though Jesus was certainly not thinking about lightbulbs and electricity in the first century, they are a clear illustration for us today. A lightbulb bears some responsibility for failing to give expression to its light, but the visible light that emanates from the bulb has its origin in the electrical supply. Unplug the light from its outlet, and it is completely incapable of shining. Our being the light of the world is similarly dependent on if we are connected to Christ, “the true light that gives light to everyone” (John 1:9).
Nevertheless, we bear clear responsibility for the extent to which our light is visible. Jesus urges we not hide our light under a bowl (Matthew 5:15). The life of a person indwelt by Christ is intended to be a message that people can see. Paul told the Philippian Christians to be “blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky…” (Philippians 2:15). Like pinpricks of light in the night sky, the purpose of shining our light is to guide lost and lonely wanderers to Christ.
Jesus finishes this portion of His teaching by saying, “...let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). When people see our good deeds, they will recognize the Father. They will see that we behave as we do because of His work in us, not because of some personally decided morality or in response to the opinions of others. When we are “plugged in” to Christ, our behaviour ceases to be explained in human terms but is the consequence of the implementation of deity into our weak and failing humanity so that God is recognized and praised. This is the light that shines and has impact!
Prayer: Gracious God, I am grateful that You want to shine Your light through a regular vessel like me. May the way I interact with others clearly reveal to them Your character. Thank You, Jesus.