“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp & put it under a basket, but on a stand, & 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 & give glory to you Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16, English Standard Version
As I was reading Matthew 5 this morning, several “light-related” thoughts came to mind.
-The first recorded words spoken by God in Genesis are “Let there be light…” (Genesis 1:3, ESV) This creative declaration spoke into being the beginning point for the life that would soon fill the earth & the sea.
-One of my earliest memories is being in a car driving down the Mt. Rose highway from Tahoe’s North Shore, heading down the twisty, curvy mountain road, with the destination being HOME (which in my case was & is Reno.) I can still feel the feeling of joy & anticipation that rose up in me as we made the final turn in the dark that revealed the lights of the Greater Reno/Sparks Metropolitan area… several thoughts hit all at once. “Home!” “People!” And “Life!” (I may have had worries that one day the world (or at least my city) would end while I was away & I wouldn’t know about it until we drove home…) Bottom line, I equated the LIGHTS with LIFE.
–Vincent Van Gogh, the famous Dutch painter, had at one time been a Protestant minister – he was fired by his ministerial superiors for undermining the dignity of the priesthood, a charge that stemmed from his missional attempts to meet the physical as well as spiritual needs of impoverished peoples. One of my favorite paintings is Starry Night; one of the most striking features of the painting is also one of the most subtle. The painting depicts a “Starry Night” with a sprawling village laid out beneath it. Lights, (representing LIFE) fill almost every home and building… except for the church in the lower middle of the canvas. No lights to be found. And from his experience, no LIFE.
We are the light of the world because we have the LIFE that Christ has given, represented by the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are the light because Jesus was the light first (John 8:12), & we’re following in His footsteps, reflecting Him. The Matthew 5:14-16 passage declares that the light is meant to shine; a lamp isn’t lit to be covered, but to be placed where it can bring light to the dark areas. Since we are the light of the world, we are to LET our light SHINE – not hide it, minimize or cover it. To me, this is a declaration that if I live following after Jesus & loving God & people, & following Him, my light WILL shine; I would have to take specific measures to keep the light from being seen.
And that is the purpose of shining the light – so people can see. Light means, “There is LIFE here.” It draws people towards it. And worked out in our every day lives, it brings glory to God the Father.
LORD, let Your light shine in & through me today. Bring life to me & to others in Jesus Name, for Your glory.