THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
Matthew 5:14-16 Princeton Christian Church 19 January 2022
Jesus says, in Matthew 5:14-16 that His followers are to be the Light of the World. A city on a hill, which cannot be hidden.
It may well be said that this is the greatest compliment that was ever paid to the individual Christian. For in those words Jesus commands the Christian to be what He Himself claims to be – the light of the world. Jesus said, in John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When Jesus commanded His followers to be the light of the world, He demanded nothing less than that they should be like Himself.
The light we have to shine is a borrowed light. It is borrowed from God. We are not commanded to produce our own light, but to let the light which God has given us shine. We must shine with the reflection of His light. Our radiance comes from the presence of Christ within the Christian’s heart, like the radiant bride whose radiance comes from the love which has been born within her heart.
When Jesus said that the Christian must be the light of the world, what did He mean? What is this light? We all know that light is something with the purpose of being seen. It is difficult or impossible to create a secret light. In the same way, there is no such thing as secret discipleship. Secrecy, in fact, will destroy discipleship.
Our life in Christ should be perfectly visible at all times and to all people. It is easy for us to shine our light among our peers – other Christians. But the light should not only shine in church. It should be visible in ordinary activities. The light should shine in how we treat all people. How do we treat the checker at the grocery store, or the driver who cuts you off in traffic, or any number of people who cross our path during an average day?
Christians must be seen as Christians – Christ-followers – wherever we go. And, that light should shine not only in our behavior, but also in our speech – what we say, and how we say it, and when we say it – at home, at work, at school, in our leisure time. Jesus did not say, “you are the light of the church,” Our light must shine outside the church. Our life in the world should show the world that we are Christians. We must show them we are of Christ.
Light is intended to be seen. Light is also a Guide. A light’s purpose is to make the way clear. Think of trying to land a plane without runway lights to guide the pilot’s actions. The headlights on our vehicles light our way on the highways.
A Christian, as a light, must help to make the way clear to others. We do that by shining as an example. Suppose there is a group of people, and one in the group suggests the group engage in an action that is questionable. Unless someone makes a protest, the thing will be done by the consensus of the group. But, if someone stands up and says, “I won’t do it,” that resolve, that shining light may cause others to stand and say, “Neither will I.” If they had not been guided by some light, they would have remained silent and possibly been led into a difficult or undesirable situation.
Many people do not have the moral strength and courage to take a stand by themselves. But, given a lead from someone who does have that moral strength and courage, they will follow. With someone strong to lean upon, they can do the right thing. This is especially true in the lives of baby Christians – those who have just recently been born into the family of God.
The Christian’s duty is to take the stand and give the lead. The world needs guiding lights. We would probably be amazed at the number of people out in the world who are actually searching for some light in their lives. People are waiting and longing for a leader to help them do what they cannot do by themselves – that is, without Christ and His Light Bearers.
A light is meant to be seen. Light is a Guide. And light can often be a warning light. That light tells us to stop when there is danger ahead. It is the Christian’s duty to warn others of that danger. The danger, of course, is for them to live without Christ in their life; to enter into eternity without a Savior. Sometimes that is hard to do without doing some harm. No one wants to be told he is on the path to destruction when he thinks he is having such an exciting time walking that path. It is sad when someone, possibly on his deathbed, says to a Christian – the light of the world – “If only you had said something to me before it was too late.”
Our warning to those in darkness, without a light, must be done with an arm around them. Warn them in love. The light of the world - Christians – cannot witness to and win the world if we stir up anger, irritation, criticism, or condemnation. We must convince them that God loves them so much that He was willing to allow His Son to die for even them. Convince them you want to spend eternity with them. You do not want them to be lost.
The light which can be seen; the light which guides; the light which warns. These are the lights that the Christian must hold high in a lost and dying world.