Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world”. Personally for me in this contemporary 21st century Western world it is really difficult to imagine a physical world without light. When I wake up in the morning, the 1st thing I do is turn on a lamp so I can see. When the power goes out, we often might grab our cell phone and use its light to light a match to light a candle. And as one who is passionate for the environment, it saddens me to see more and more manmade light pollution with each passing year.
Back in Bible times light pollution was never an issue. When nightfall arrived, the world would be shrouded in darkness. While a day in the secular calendar begins and ends at midnight, a Jewish day goes from nightfall to nightfall. Of course in Bible times there was not electricity as we are used to. There wasn’t even matches. Scottish theologian William Barclay mentioned that the types of lamp referred to in Matthew 5:14-16 “Was like a sauce-boat tiled with oil with the wick floating in it. It was not so easy to rekindle a lamp in the days before matches existed. Normally the lamp stood on the lampstand which would be no more than a roughly shaped branch of wood; but when people went out, for safety’s sake, they took the lamp from its stand, and put it under an earthen bushel measure, so that it might burn without risk until they came back. The primary duty of the light of the lamp was to be seen”.
As a runner, particularly in the winter with shorter days, many of my runs are at nighttime. I have several lights for running to accommodate varying running conditions. It is always important to have a backup light as well if one dies. My brightest headlamp on full power is 650 lumens. In a well lit room the light is visible. But it is most effective on a trail that is pitch black. It reveals all the icy patches, all the uneven ground and rough sections that might cause me to stumble and fall. As Christians, God’s Word keeps us from stumbling and falling spiritually. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path”.
Another type of running light I use is an illuminated vest so I can be seen by others. This light actually really doesn’t help myself to see all that much. Drivers have noted when I’m on country roads they could see me over a kilometer away. There is a 1.3 kilometer run along a road I need to run on so I can get to the trails. Half of this distance there are no sidewalks so I am running on roads. During the winter months the sidewalks are far more icier than the roads. So I will run the full distance to the trails on the roads as it is safer. Though it is only safer if a driver of a 7,000 pound vehicle sees me so he or she doesn’t run me over. So I am shining my lights bright in order to be seen.
As Christians, Jesus called us in Matthew 5:14, “A light of the world”. And in verse 16 Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men”. Our lights are most visible when it is the darkest. I’ve worked in a lot of occupations over the years. Sometimes my work was in a very dark spiritual environment. In my 20’s when I was in well drilling, many times I was sent way up north for work at various mines. The mining camps were extremely rough. In my 40’s I worked in a factory building heavy truck axles for tractor trailers. My co-workers were in fact great guys. But listening daily to the extremely vulgar language in the locker room was very draining. It was hard to keep my light shining. There is a real danger in shining our lights in a dark world. Our faith can so easily be compromised by the world and our lights can grow dim. So it requires a strong relationship with Jesus and commitment to follow Him in obedience. To help encourage us in our faith and to keep our lights shining brightly, it is so important to pray, read God’s Word, and meet regularly with other Christians to encourage each other in the faith. Which is why attending church is very important. It is a means of recharging our spiritual batteries.
When Jesus said “You are the light in the world”, it should show by the way we rub shoulders with those in the world. Our Christian faith should be visible. It is in the way we treat a cashier in a grocery store. Or a waiter or waitress in a restaurant. It is the way we play a game or drive a car. It’s the literature we read each day. It’s the websites we visit. It’s the posts and comments we make on social media. It’s the language we use. Our lights should be just as bright in a factory, a mining camp, a highway school crosswalk, a workshop, a classroom, a kitchen or a sports field as in church. Jesus did not say, “You are the light of the church”. He did say “You are the light of the world”.
Social media is one way we can shine our lights. On Twitter I follow this lady named Vetty Wink. She faithfully shines her light by tweeting extremely profound messages that come from the heart. On February 8th she tweeted, “Following Christ is exponentially more difficult than not following Christ. Non believers don’t understand the mental fortitude it takes. It is the epitome of doing hard things”. Those are such profound words. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven”.