Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
“You are the light of the world. A city 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 men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Jesus called Himself “the Light of the world,” but noted that that was the case only “While I am in the world” (John 9:5 NIV). So where is the light to be found now that Jesus has ascended to heaven?
The answer is that the light of Jesus in the world is still here, in us, the people of God. When we receive Jesus as our Savior, it is popular to say that He comes to live in our hearts. And that is true. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts mediates the presence of Jesus (as well as the Father) to the hearts of everyone who belongs to the kingdom. (See John 14:15-18, 20, 23.) The Light of the world, Jesus Himself, inhabits His disciples, and shines brightly through their lives into the darkness of the world.
But as lights of the world, there are things that we must be careful of. First of all, we must make sure to never snuff out the light by quenching the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) through sin, indifference to God’s agenda, or disobedience to His commands.
Next, we must not hide the light that is within us. Like a city on a hill, a brilliant light in a dark place is impossible to hide. And God designed His light in us to be clearly seen. The darkness can only be conquered when light shines into it.
It may be tempting at times, especially when times are hard and wickedness is abounding, to try to hide the light of Jesus by remaining silent, choosing not to act, keeping our testimony to ourselves, or simply not going where the darkness is, where our light will stand out. How tragic! There is no need to light a candle in a brightly lit room. The light must be purposefully taken to the dark places to bring light to them, and to dissolve the dark.
God’s light must be allowed to shine where it is dark. To try to shut it in out of fear, or outright disobedience will cut off its spiritual oxygen, and will quench it in the life of the believer – a great tragedy!
Father, I admit that it is sometimes tempting to stay silent when we find ourselves in a dark place; just keep our heads down until we can get safely back to the light. But I can also see how that completely avoids our purpose, and our greatest opportunity to change the world. In a sense, we want people to come out of the darkness on their own, to come to the light that we promise we have. But Your command is to go into the dark places, to take the light with us, and to destroy the darkness by allowing Your light to shine through us. That’s a lot scarier than our way, but SO much more successful overall. Help us, Lord, to be bold light-bearers, and to take on the darkness in the firm understanding that it is YOUR light shining through us that will do the work. Amen.