Light of the World
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the 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.” – Matthew 5:14-16
“The Sermon on the Mount is perhaps the greatest sermons preached by perhaps one of the best preachers around!” A seminary professor once said this – tongue in cheek of course – to a class I was a part of. Of course, it is the great sermon of Jesus. Of course, Jesus is the great preacher of the New Testament. And yet, we all need to spend more time in this section of Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 5:1-7:27). Over the next few months, I’m going to use selections of this sermon for my monthly Vine article.
If you were driving into town from the North, it was a welcome beacon that told travelers they would soon be home.
My home town had a small municipal airport just North of town. Small aircraft could easy land and take off from this airport. Crop dusters and small personal airplanes used this airport. The runways were expanded a few years after I moved away to accommodate some smaller jet planes but by and large it was a small town, small airplane airport. Near the center of the airfield there was a tower that would shine lights in the evenings. The two lights would rotate at the top of the tower. The lights on the tower could be seen for miles. Our farm was 3.5 miles away from the airport and we could see the lights shining every night. If you were driving into town from the North, it was a welcome beacon that told travelers they would soon be home.
I’ve thought of that airport beacon many times over the years especially when I’ve read this passage from Matthew’s gospel. Jesus tells his disciples and all who will hear that they are “the light of the world”. He’s telling them that they are called to shine the light of God into the world. A world that for many seemed so dark and lonely. A world that seemed to be filled with despair and chaos. He reminds them that they have received God’s light and that this light should never ever be hidden. It should be shared freely and openly. It should shine so that the world might see that there is indeed goodness and mercy for all who seek it.
I think Jesus might have words for the church that echo what he said to those at the sermon mount.
There are some who would say that we are living in very similar times to the time of Jesus. We seem be living in times that are filled with a lack of civility and compassion. A darkness that permeates decent conversation and fills us with a feeling of hopelessness. We feel overwhelmed by a voices raised in anger and fingers pointing in seemingly every direction. I think Jesus might have words for the church that echo what he said to those at the sermon mount.
…let God’s light shine into the world and share God’s better way.
I believe that Jesus would call up all of us to let God’s light to shine in all our interactions. Whether they are in the lively discussions amongst friends but also in the discourse of disagreement with those who wish us ill, Jesus would call us to let God’s light shine not only in our words, but in the actions we take with those around us. He would call us to let God’s light shine and show that common curtesy and civility are the better way. He would call us to stand boldly – even if we stand alone – and let God’s light shine into the world and share God’s better way.