“You are the light of the world.” I ran across this verse this week and when I first read it out of context from the Matthew 5 paragraph, I initially thought it was talking about Jesus being the light of the world. Yes, “He is our light,” I thought. Jesus, in all His beauty, easily radiates light; He lives up to this statement well. But after these brief mental meanderings and divinity declarations, I realized this verse was Christ-followers, believers…the Church (with a capital “C”).
That’s quite an announcement, quite a proclamation! Jesus says, immediately following the sermon on the mount, “You are the light of the world. A town built 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 others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16).
I winced as my spirit churned inside me. “Are we?” I thought. “Are we really being the light?” So many opinions, so much self-promotion, so much anger, so much hatred, so much self-righteousness….so many ways we aren’t light. So many ways, personally, I’m not light. In that sacred moment of honest evaluation and divine conviction, I realized there is still hope.
God knows our failures as a “C”hurch, “c”hurch, and individual. He knows these failures very well even while we are still coming to self-awareness that, ah, yes, maybe we really aren’t all that good after all. But just like He told Peter that he would be the rock on which the church would be built, knowing that Peter would deny Him three times, so Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world, knowing that our darkness will sometimes hamper the brightness.
This is our challenge, our goal. This is what we must strive for. Wake up, sleeper. Wake up, Church. Within us, is the same power that rose Christ from the dead. The Spirit of the living God resides in our hearts, in our lives. Oh, how we must shed our selfish shells and let the light shine. This world needs it! This nation needs it! It all comes back to Jesus– the source of all light, the source of all hope.
Remember the children’s song, “This little light of mine”? Don’t hide the Jesus in you from a world who needs it. Don’t put make-up and layers over the spirit of the living God dwelling within you. Live out your light. Shine in your home. Love in your workplace. Beam at the grocery store, in the traffic jams, in the heated conversations and hopeless frustrations…Be the light. Reflect the radiance of the Perfect One “who calls things that are not as though they are.” (Romans 4:17).