“You are the light of the world. A town built 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 others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

The YOU ARE statements of Jesus are foundational  for Christian living. They remind us of our position in Christ and how important we are to him. Yesterday we were reminded that we are ‘The Salt of the Earth’. As salt we have the power and opportunity to make a pleasing and satisfying difference in the lives of others.

Today we look at another “You Are” statement from Jesus. This statement is found immediately after Jesus teaching about our position as salt.

Jesus says, in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A town built 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 others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Jesus’ proclamation that we are ‘The Light of the World’ is full of meaning. Think of a world without light. Several years ago now I cooked maple syrup with a friend. We cooked down the sap in a small cook shack about a quarter of a mile into the woods. We had no electricity so we used gas lanterns, flashlights and other battery operated lights for cooking on those nights when we had to cook late.

One night I was cooking alone and finished about 1:00 AM. I shut everything down and turned on my flashlight for the trek to the road. To my dismay, the batteries were dead! Although there was no moon, I knew the way and there was enough light to see to get to my car, so I set out. I slowly began my journey into the dark. About half-way into the journey an owl screeched loudly. It seemed as though it could have been in the trees directly above me. Now, mind you, I was a grown adult. I knew what the sound was. I knew I was in no danger from an owl. I could see the yard light marking my destination in the distance. Those were the facts. But fear doesn’t always look at the facts, and to be honest, I panicked. I began to run towards my car.

Now those obstacles in the dark became weapons. I caught small saplings across the face and almost stumbled several times in the darkness. I only ran a short distance before logic took over and I regained my composure.

That story reminds me of how darkness can affect our lives. It causes fear. It causes confusion. It can make you do things that are out of character for you. What’s true for physical darkness is true for emotional and spiritual darkness as well. Darkness has an adverse affect on every aspect of our lives.

Light, on the other hand, is different. Light gives us warmth. Light gives us protection. Light gives us guidance. Light is powerful! How much darkness does it take to destroy light? The answer of course is NO amount of darkness can overpower light. The smallest amount of light can penetrate darkness. The darker the darkness, the brighter the light seems to shine!

The key to lights effectiveness is its power source. Take, for example, a laser beam. The beam from a laser pointer is relatively harmless. However, lasers can be used for a variety of purposes, including cutting some of the hardest materials on earth. It is the power source, not the light itself that gives the laser its strength.

So, if you are the light of the world, what is your power source? Jesus tells us in John 8:12, which says, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

When we choose to follow Christ, we become agents of his light. Our light is a reflection of his glory, power and grace. It exposes the compassion, forgiveness and love that made others seek Jesus out. It shines for others to see so that when they are in darkness they can find the way to his light.

How should this light be used? Jesus says, (my paraphrase) ‘If it’s getting dark do you light a candle and then put it under a bowl? Of course not! You put it on a stand or someplace in the open where others can benefit from the light. Hidden light is of no value whatsoever.

Imagine you are walking on a dark path with a friend and you have one flashlight between you. Your friend is completely dependent on your light to guide him through the darkness. Does it do any good to shine it into the trees? Does it do any good to shine the light from side to side, or worse yet to shine the light behind you or into your friends eyes? The answer again, is no! You shine it on the path in front of you so you both can benefit from its light. We become a guide for those around us.

For the believer in Jesus Christ, our flashlight, so to speak is the Holy Bible. It gives us the guidance we need for our relationships, our behavior and our spiritual growth. Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” We must never lose sight of the importance of letting the Scriptures guide us, and others through the darkness.

The purpose of this light is to draw people towards the Father. Jesus says let your light shine in such a way that others notice your attitude, your actions, the way you treat others. They will be so impressed by what they see in you they will praise God because you are in their presence.

I close with one final story. Several years ago a co-worker came to me with a request. Her father had been rushed to the hospital the night before and was in surgery. She said, “I know you are a religious guy, could you pray for him?”

I didn’t flaunt my religion for everyone to see. I’m not the type of person who preaches to people every chance I get. It wasn’t my words that drew this co-worker to me. It was my attitude of approachability. As a result of this event in her life, my co-worker eventually said yes to Jesus! People seek light when they are in darkness.

So my question for us today is this. Do others see the light of Jesus in our lives? Do they seek us out because we are a source of comfort, protection and guidance? Jesus doesn’t say “you could be a light to the world”. He says ‘You ARE a light to the world.”

My prayer for each of us today is that we will spread Christ’s light of forgiveness, understanding and grace to all those who cross our paths today. We have no idea how the light we live by could benefit others.

PRAYER: Father God, you have given me the awesome opportunity to be a light to those who are struggling. Help me shine for you today in my actions, my words and my attitudes. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.