Jesus told His followers that they were to be the light of the world. We often ascribe that title to Jesus Himself, since He is the only one who can lead us out of the darkness of our lives. Perhaps it’s easier to only think about Jesus being the light because that absolves us of some responsibility. We’ll tell others about Christ and point them to His light, but if we are to shine ourselves that means we must make radical changes in the way we live. Jesus didn’t qualify His statement in Matthew 5:14. He didn’t say we could be the light of the world or that we should be the light of the world; He clearly said that we are the light of the world.
The only way we can be the light of the world is if we are living in such obedience to Christ that His light shines brightly through us. This isn’t optional for followers of Jesus, although it seems that we have dropped this as a requirement for modern Christianity. To call someone a Christian who is not lighting the world with the love of God seems to contradict the teaching of Jesus. He told His disciples they were the light of the world. These were followers who were committed to Jesus and were willing to walk the path that He did. They had forsaken everything for the sake of following Him and their lives shone brightly because of their devotion to God.
If the love of God is not shining through your life I think you have to take a serious look at whether or not you are a true follower. Remember, the “magic prayer” someone told you would get you into Heaven isn’t good enough. That’s not something Jesus ever talked about and you won’t find it anywhere in the Bible. It saddens me to realize that there will be a great number of modern day people who call themselves Christians but will be turned away at the gates of Heaven. It’s not enough to say a prayer and hold to a basic belief in God. You’ve got to shine.
To be the light of the world means that we will continue the mission of Christ here on earth. We will do what He told us to do: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick and shelter the homeless. We’ll look after the orphans and the widows, visit those in prison and pursue justice for the weak and oppressed. We will shine like Jesus shone when we do the things that Jesus did. Following Christ is not about going to Heaven. Following Jesus is about loving Him with all of our heart, strength and mind and sharing that love with others around us. For too long we have been taught a Christianity that focuses on our own salvation at the cost of ignoring the mission of Jesus. He came and died to provide forgiveness for the sins of everyone and to teach us how to live in a manner that is pleasing to our Creator. Salvation is not for you alone, but rather for the world and everyone who has ever lived.
Heaven is the reward we receive for living a life of total devotion to Jesus. It is the reward, but it is not the goal. Our only goal is to live a life that looks like Christ. When we live in such a manner as this, His glory will radiate from the core of our being and provide light for a lost and dying world that is hopelessly trapped in the darkness of sin. We are to shine in our homes, in our places of work and in our neighborhoods. The light of God is eternal and so we must shine at all times and in all places. To this we have been called; this is our purpose. We are the light of the world. How brightly are you shining?
Question: What are you doing to allow the light of God to shine through you? You can share your comments with others below.