“You are the Light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)
Jesus told His first disciples something essential to them: “You are the Light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14) He wanted them to understand that they WERE of a different substance than that of the dark world all around them.
Notice, Jesus did not tell them that they would be the Light… or that they were becoming the Light (succeeding only after years of training and faithful service) — but that they WERE already the Light.
Because Jesus said so. The very One Who first spoke the words, “Let there BE light” (over the void of creation) spoke over His disciples. Because they had committed themselves to be faithful followers of Jesus (and to everything to which He was committed) they had a special designation, a special impartation – they WERE to BE as He is.
This means that the moment any of us says “Yes!” to the call of Jesus, we have a new identity: We ARE the Light. The apostle confirms this… “at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8) And we: “share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness…” (from Col. 1:12-13). Jesus brought us out of darkness and into the Light… to BE what He is to our world.
Just as Jesus was the Light of His day (John 8:12)… so we are the Light to ours.
As in all things, in the New Covenant, everything begins with an understanding of what we ARE because of Jesus (and His work on our behalf). We are not becoming the Light. We ARE the Light. All (and only) because of Jesus.
But what does it mean to BE the Light?
First, we need to understand what it doesn’t mean.
We all understand that Light dispels darkness. Where Light is… darkness isn’t.
But what we so often miss is that peoples’ darkness is “cased” inside their darkened hearts. There is a barrier over the hearts of those in darkness – that keeps the light out. Also, the more time you spend in darkness, the more comfortable it becomes (you can actually become fond of it! [see John 3:19!]). Because of this, instantaneous light is repulsive to darkness.
If you have ever been in a dark room and someone turns on the light, it immediately “burns” your eyes and causes you to shut them until your eyes can adjust (OR you just shut off the light and go back to your “comfort” in the darkness).
Light that is not welcome… is light that is repelled.
We understand that everything that is of God’s Nature and Character is Light (1John 1:5). Because this is true, there is no doubt that truth is part of Light. But if we use the truth to bludgeon people out of their darkness we will certainly meet stubborn resistance.
When it comes to darkened human hearts, truth is a blinding light that causes them to reject our “truth” in favor of the comfort and familiarity of their darkness (see John 3:20).
Christians tend to see our “witness” as setting people straight – as convincing them how wrong they are, so they can get right. We equate this to being the light.
But here’s the thing… people in darkness don’t think they are wrong. They have grown accustomed to their condition, and are often quite resistant to those who would criticize their thinking or their actions.
Jesus did not make us the Light to repel darkness – He made us the Light to invite those in darkness to seek something better (see John 3:21).
We are called to the better. Tomorrow we will look at Jesus’ approach to the darkness in His day…