I AM astounded whenever I realize that the Gospels declare both Christ and His followers as the light of the world.
In John 8:12, Jesus said of Himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (see also John 9:5, 12:46).
But in Matthew 5:14, just after the Beatitudes, He shifted the pronoun. The original disciples must have been shocked when He told them, “You are the light of the world.” Imagine Peter, James and John jabbing elbows at each other and muttering “Who, me? Is He talking about us?”
What is that light which we are to shine upon the world? Matthew 5:16 strongly suggests that our light is our good works: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Our good deeds, so to speak, collectively form a spotlight to be trained not on ourselves, but on God. The worldly man seeks to draw attention to himself. The Christian seeks to point others to his Lord.
Jesus did not say, “You are the light in your neighborhood.” Rather, He had a global perspective, “You are the light of the world.” Many would limit themselves and say, “Oh but I am just an ordinary Christian. What impact can I have?”
Hold on. Thanks to technology, we are in an unprecedented age of connectivity. What’s more, God is bigger than our world. When we do an act of kindness in the name of Christ, we will never know where God will carry it to.
Yes, we are Christ’s light in the area where we live and work. By all means, let us love our neighbors with the practical action of the good Samaritan. It can be the single mom who lives next door, the struggling breadwinner in the cubicle across ours, the troubled teenager in your small group. But let us also hope and pray that God will use our humble, even unseen deeds to advance His purposes beyond all that we can think or imagine.
Seen this way, no good deed is ever insignificant. Jesus promises that even giving a cup of cold water to a “little one” will be rewarded (Matthew 10:42). I don’t know about you, but such meditation inspires me to be even more eager to do good.
Most important, our light points to The Light.
The sun is crucial for physical life. At night, the moon reflects the sun which is on the other side of the world. If these heavenly bodies were animate, I would not expect the sun to belittle the moon or the moon to envy the sun. Both have their own roles, with the sun understandably having the more important one.
Similarly, the Son is crucial for spiritual life. We reflect the Son who now sits on the Father’s right hand. Both the Redeemer and the redeemed have roles to play, with Jesus being the Author and Finisher.
This week, let us be faithful to the tasks God calls us to fulfill. May our words and deeds cause many more to transfer from darkness into His marvelous light.
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