“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14)
I’m of the opinion that one of the greatest things Jesus ever said to us are the words of our verse today — “You are the light of the world.” In that statement, Jesus commands us to be nothing less than what He Himself claimed to be. In John 9:5, Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” So, when Jesus asks you and me to be the light of the world, He is asking us to be nothing less than what He is.
Importance in our world today is often judged by how well known or prominent a person may be. But as Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount (the greatest sermon ever preached), He was speaking to people whose names we don’t know. They were ordinary people and He called them “the light of the world.” Do you see the significance? Jesus was telling them that they were important in the Kingdom work.
I don’t believe that Jesus was passive when He said, “You are the light of the world.” Rather, I am convinced that He emphatically said, “YOU are the light of the world!” It amazes me that Jesus would know me for who and what I am and yet still say that I am “the light of the world.”
It is significant to me that Jesus said “You ARE the light of the world.” When I got started in ministry 30 plus years ago, I thought that the most important thing I did was preparation of sermons. I still believe that my primary “gift” in ministry is preaching. I served the Pauline Baptist Church in Bentonville, NC for about 3 years. That means I preached at least 300 sermons (Sunday morning and Wednesday nights) during that time. Now, if you were to go back to that church today and ask them to give you a list of five sermons I preached in those 3 years, I doubt there is anybody who could do it.
On the other hand, I imagine that most anybody who attended that church in those days would be able to tell you how I lived, the spirit I had and the impression my life made on them. My sermons had more impact because the people KNEW me and I was involved in their lives. There are people in every church I have served who remember some crisis they encountered and I was there to minister to their family. Not long ago, a man told me that what he remembered most about me was that while I was his pastor, he went to the hospital. When I came to visit him, he said I knelt down beside his bed to have prayer. With tears in his eyes, he said, “That meant more to me than anything.”
Don’t get me wrong. Preaching is still my primary responsibility in ministry. However, my preaching is pointless if the people to whom I preach don’t see a Christian witness in my dealings with them daily. The life I have lived rather than the words I have preached has most often been the thing that has impacted people the most in these 30 years.
Remember, Jesus did NOT say, “In time you will bring the light,” nor did he say, “Someday you will become the light.” He said, “You ARE the light.” It is not by the things we say or the deeds we do, but by the people we ARE that we can be called the light of the world.
One night when Robert Louis Stevenson was a child, he stood at the window watching an old lamplighter at work. The lamplighter made his way down the street lighting one lamp after another. This process fascinated young Stevenson. Thinking that his quietness means that he was up to some kind of mischief, his mother called out to him, “Robert, what are you doing?” He said, “I’m watching a man making holes in the darkness!”
The longer I live, the more I realize that there is MUCH darkness in this world. I can’t do it all — but I can do what I can to make a hole in the darkness around me. When Jesus said that “You are the light of the world,” He intended for our Christianity to be visible to everyone. Nobody should ever have to ask you or me, “Are you a Christian?” If you are making holes in the darkness — it will be evident.
Have a great day.