Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). God is delighted to see you shine. He wants you to flourish and prosper so that others will see your light and glorify your Father in heaven.
The purpose of a light is to brighten the area around it. When a candle is lit it would be silly to hide it under a basket. Instead, it is put in a prominent place so it can give light to the biggest area possible. Even so, God wants to place you in situations where the light of His love can be manifested as largely as possible.
A Powerful Witness
One day when Jesus and His disciples arrived at the country of the Gadarenes they were met by a ferocious man possessed by devils, who was very well known in that area, for many men had failed in their attempt to bind him with chains, and nobody would pass that way for fear of him. After Jesus delivered this man, he “besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath
done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him. And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him” (Luke 8:38-40).
Jesus could have invited this convert to travel with Him, but he had a greater work to do among his friends and family. They knew what he was like before, so to see the transformation was compelling evidence for them to believe on Jesus. His witness was so powerful that when Jesus returned that way, they were waiting for Him and gladly received him.
This man was a light that could shine brighter and be more effective in his home town. God had a particular plan for him, and by shining where God wanted him, he had the greatest success possible.
The Source of Light
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world…” (John 8:12). Yet, we have already read where Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world.” You are the light because His light is in you. He is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). To shine, we need His light in us. A candle without fire cannot give light to others, even so, without Christ’s life enlightening us and affecting the way we live, we are as useless as a candle with no flame.
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7). God is the true source of all light. When we walk in His light, our lives are transformed.
Walking in the Light
What does it mean to walk in the light? Jesus explained: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). Those who walk in the light are those who follow Jesus. “My sheep hear my voice,” said Jesus, “and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Following Jesus is an identifying mark of a Christian. Jesus taught, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).
To walk in the light is to follow Jesus, and it is this process that makes us lights to those around us. When we see the light of God’s character, it has an affect upon our own characters. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory [character] of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). When others see God’s character manifested in the way we treat others or respond to difficult circumstances, it gives them a desire to have what we have.
Walking in the light gives us a purpose in life. It is not about me anymore; it is about falling in love with God and reflecting His character to those around me. Jesus expressed this in reverse when He said, “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth” (John 12:35). Someone who walks in darkness (apart from Christ) does not know where he is going, but those who walk in the light know where they are going, they have a purpose-driven life.
A New Life
Paul explained, “…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Walking in the light, following Jesus, requires a new life, a transformation from the inside out. Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). In the new life, old things are passed away.
“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Ephesians 5:8-14).
Christ wants to shine in our hearts. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). A light shining on the inside will be manifested on the outside. When Christ is living in your heart, it will be observable by those around you by the way you treat others and react to situations. “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14, 15).
Jesus explained, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single [simple, clear, sound, unclouded], thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22, 23). Jesus was not speaking about your physical eyes, but “the eyes of your understanding” which need to be “enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18).
The first sin on earth started because Eve was tricked into seeing things differently than they really are. Satan convinced her that the forbidden fruit would help her. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6). Her perception of the fruit changed, so, naturally, her perception of God changed. If the fruit God had told her would hurt her, would actually help her, then God must be selfish and a liar.
God sent His Son to settle forever the questions about His character. He loves you “with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). All of our distorted perceptions about God need to change.
Jesus said, “Take heed therefore how ye hear…” (Luke 8:18). Here, Jesus was also speaking about our perceptions, but used hearing instead of seeing as an example. We need to be careful how we see and hear things, because our perceptions are often wrong. One absolute that should never change in our perceptions, regardless of how difficult life becomes, is that “God is love,” (1 John 4:8). All of His dealings are based upon His love for us. Keeping this in mind will help us to see clearly.
God loves you tremendously! He cherishes you. Paul explained how thoroughly the Lord loves us, likening His love to how a man should love his wife. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Ephesians 5:29, 30). You are cherished by God. Regardless of your circumstances, you are being nourished by God to prepare you for an eternal home with Him.
You are the light of the world. You are to be a window for God’s character to shine out of to the community where you live. A light is not to be put under a basket or hidden somewhere out of sight. Instead, it is to be brightly shining where it can reach as many people as possible.
There is a mentality prevalent that causes people to hide themselves away like hermits. They think that in order to be safe during the soon-coming tribulation, they must have as little contact with others as possible. This mentality is based on fear and selfishness. Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35). We should be more concerned about the well-being of those around us than about preserving ourselves. How can we be the light of the world when we are hiding that light under a basket?
Friends, you have been transformed so you can be a light in the world. Please do not hide yourselves away so nobody can see the light within you. If the transformed man, whom Jesus told to be a witness in his community, had secluded himself in a cave like a hermit, how could he be a blessing to his friends and family?
A candle hid under a bushel soon goes out itself. Often people get so reclusive that they lose track of what is really important. They start to major in minors (they place much stress on unimportant side issues, and neglect the most important reason for living—to be a light for God’s glory to shine to those around). They become like the Jews who would “…strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24).
Wherever God has placed you, you are there for a reason: to be the light in your community. Do you know your neighbors? Do they know that you care for them and wish for them to be blessed? Someone shared a quote with me that I really enjoy. It says, “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”
If you have accepted Christ, then you are the light of the world to your community. You may be the only glimpse of heaven that some will ever see. Go out and share the light! “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isaiah 60:1-3).
Ministering to the needs of those around you will look differently for different people. It could be visiting a nursing home or a hospital and encouraging people. It could be getting involved in prison ministry, either personally (one of my favorite things to do), or by mail. It could be working to alleviate the suffering of the homeless, orphans or widows. It could be to volunteer on a fire department (my wife and I do this). It could be to visit your neighbors and ask how you can pray for them. It could be a kind word or action, or even a smile. There are many ways to let your light shine so those around will know you as one who desires their good. Pray for God’s guidance so your light can bless others and burn more brightly. Please get out and make a positive difference in the world.
Note: If you have any testimonies from your own sharing experiences, or ideas about how to outreach and bless your community that might benefit others, please send them to us so we can share them with our readers. We may not be able to share them all in this newsletter, but I am sure we, personally, will be blessed by each and every one.