LIGHTING THE CANDLE
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and 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 and give glory to your Father in heaven
I do not really know what I was expecting; nevertheless, I was let down! After standing in line for over an hour to see the first rocks rocketed back from the moon, I was disappointed. Transported nearly a quarter million miles from the closest heavenly body, the rocks were an uninteresting dull gray. They looked nothing like the luminous moon I had wondered at the night before. That’s when I remembered: the moon has no light in itself, but only the light it reflects from the sun.
I think of that as I ponder today’s scripture in which Jesus looks at peasant farmers, rough-hewn fishermen, prostitutes, and tax-collectors, pronouncing them “the light of the world.” Astonishing words to say about those who had started following Jesus. After all, it is Jesus who, in the truest sense of the word, is “the light of the world.” It is the clear Gospel message that it is Jesus who is “the true light, which enlightens everyone” (John 1:9). Jesus also promises all who would believe in Him: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
The bright light of Jesus is like the brilliant sun imparting light and life to all who trust in Him. Jesus said that John the Baptist was a “bright and shining lamp”, pointing people to the light of Jesus (John 5:35). So is everyone whose life humbly reflects Jesus! The apostle Paul also reminds Philippian Christians of their high calling, that “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, you shine like stars in the world” (Philippians 2:15).
By anointing his followers as “the light of the world”, Jesus is acknowledging that the world is in darkness. And you and I, no less than the ancient Philippians, live amidst a crooked and perverse culture. But here is the good news: light not only exposes darkness but also shows the way out.
We have come through a rough and tumble year, and do not know what 2021 will bring. So, what is God’s plan for dealing with our darkened culture? You and I! Speaking humbly, our lives are the only light our broken world will ever see. As a lamp is placed on a lampstand to light up the room, so God has placed us here to light up our world. Jesus does not give His light for us to then hide it.
Spiritual writer Evelyn Underhill says: “The birth of Jesus in our souls is for a purpose beyond ourselves: it is because His manifestation in the world must be through us…”Ye are the light of the world” – but only because you are enkindled, made radiant by the one Light of the world.” (Evelyn Underhill, The Light of the World)
A mentor cautioned me that there is no such thing as secret discipleship – for either the secrecy destroys the discipleship, or the discipleship destroys the secrecy. I think he was telling me: “Let your light shine!” I want to follow Jesus. I want to reflect Jesus, living out the song I learned as a young child in Sunday School: “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!”
PALMS DOWN/PALMS UP
Our Father in heaven, thank you for making us your beloved children through Jesus Christ. By your Holy Spirit help us to walk so close to Jesus that others will see His light shining through our words and actions. Help us not to be secret disciples, but to let our light shine! Amen.