“You are the light of the world” — We are meant to be seen. If I’m honest, that scares me. I often worry about what others think of me. And I’m very flawed! What if people see my flaws? But that’s kind of the point. We have this “treasure in jars of clay” that the glory might be to God and not us. When we have Christ, we are flawed but we shine.
As the monumental Hannukah lights blazed at the Temple in Jerusalem, Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). We shine because of Jesus shining in us. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4 – 5)
And we shine oh-so-bright. We are not just the light of the house or of the town or even the country, but of the whole world. One of the amazing things about light is how even the smallest of lights draws our attention when it is dark. It’s easy to forget in our modern urban civilization where rows of sodium lamps line every street, but when it’s dark outside (and I mean truly dark — a darkness you can feel), even the faint glow of a firefly or a flicker of a flame draws our gaze. Last year (in 2015), a couple of astrophysicists showed that the human eye can detect a single candle flame from up to about 1.6 miles away! So yes, you are meant to be seen.
“A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” — In Jesus’ day, cities were typically built around hills for protection and especially to impress as many people as possible. And unlike our country roads, their country roads weren’t lined with lamps. Imagine walking along a shadowy country road, and then off in the distance you see a hill bristling with lights, a beacon of hope, safety, and splendor. The city’s light — many small flames joined together to pierce the darkness — could be seen all around it. In the same way, we are meant to shine together out into the darkness. “Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
So, ultimately we shine — that is, Jesus who is the light of the world shines through us — when we do good works. We do good works not to earn favor with God (to “please” God), but to glorify Him… to make Him famous, to show the world how great He is. Cities shone from the hilltops to glorify the people that built them, but we shine to glorify the one who rescued and adopted us. When we shower our local community with good deeds during Grace Gives (coming up in just three weeks!), we must always remember our purpose for doing it: to bring glory to God.
QUESTIONS TO ASK EACH OTHER:
- What scares you about this verse? What encourages you?
- How have you seen the church be “the light of the world?”
- How have you personally used “good works” to show off the glory of God?
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CHILDREN:
- What are some nice things we could do for our neighbors to show them that Jesus loves them?
- What are some nice things our church could do to show that Jesus loves everyone?
Jesus wants other people to see us doing nice things. But sometimes we are nice to other people just because we want them to like us. How can we do nice things in order to make Jesus famous instead?