By David Stoecker
In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus lets us know how we should present ourselves to the world when he says, “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.” (NIV).
To begin, why would we need to be light in a world that was already lit brightly? The first part of verse 14 lets us know that this world is shrouded in darkness. This is not visual darkness, but a spiritual and moral darkness that covers the world. When there is darkness, there is only one way to remove it. Since light is the absence of darkness, the only way to remove darkness is to add light.
What does it mean to be the light of the world? We know Christ and have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Due to this, we as Christians have had the spiritual veil lifted from our eyes. We no longer live in darkness. More than not living in darkness, with the aid of the Holy Spirit in us, we have the ability to glow like beacons of hope to others.
We glow like beacons by living for Christ. We live for Christ by being the city built on a hill, the lamp placed high upon a stand. How? We stand out from the rest of the world by being spiritually and morally different. We should not blend in with everyone else. Our light should shine before men!
There are many ways our light should shine. Going to church twice a week does not make my light shine. Getting dunked in water by a pastor is not enough. Doing the right thing out of obligation or guilt isn’t the way to brighten the world. Sitting in the front row, having the Bible memorized, singing the loudest and raising hands in worship do not cause our light to shine.
If I want to illumine those in the dark, I must live dynamically outside of the church. Dynamic living is getting yelled at but not yelling back. It is refraining from joining in the gossip at work. It is not judging someone by how they look or dress, or what they have financially. It is saying a kind word and being nice to the person you least want to because it is the right thing to do.
If I live dynamically, I will apply the golden rule and then some. I would challenge you to treat others BETTER than you want to be treated. That is letting your light shine.
Being dynamic is being open and honest about my relationship with Christ. Living dynamically and having a personal relationship with Christ that I keep to myself are diametrically opposed ways of existence.
I can no more hide my relationship with Jesus Christ than you could hide that city on a hill in broad day light. I want others to know the incredible power of change and hope gifted by the Holy Spirit.
Sin extinguishes our light. “Thou shall not lie” means that we should not even tell little white lies. “Thou shall not steal” refers to cheating on our taxes too. Lust is cheating. Pride, greed and coveting seem to be common. We are called to be uncommon!
Inaction is a huge sin. When we see a wrong and do nothing to make it right, that is a sin. Being silent about my faith when it is my duty to be vocal and lead by example, to always be the bigger person when a situation could go south, is sin.
If we are the light of the world, we are to live our lives well. People should know that we are Christians by our love, compassion, hope and how we live our lives. That is how we become the beacon of light in a dark, dark world!
David Stoecker is a Substance Abuse Counselor with Alternative Opportunities, Inc.. You may reach David at firstname.lastname@example.org