Matthew 5:14-16 T(VOICE) 14 And you, beloved, are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. 15 Similarly it would be silly to light a lamp and then hide it under a bowl. When someone lights a lamp, she puts it on a table or a desk or a chair, and the light illumines the entire house. 16 You are like that illuminating light. Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it.
This passage from Matthew chapter five, part of the ‘sermon on the mount’ are familiar to many of us. It is hard for me to hear these words and not think of the song from Godspell that puts them to music. It’s a catchy song and part of a great musical, and it means I find it easy to remember all of these words, but I have to admit it doesn’t necessarily help me consider what they mean and why they should matter to me.
On one hand, these are pretty clear and simple instructions: we are to be a light, shining into the world; we are to be like a city on a hill – something for everyone to look up to and see. We have been given something – like a lamp – that is meant to be prominently displayed, not hidden. This is not confusing stuff.
The application for our lives, however, is usually not so clear and easy. What does it mean for us to ‘let our light shine everywhere we go’? Although I love the traditional translation of this passage – and those are the words I know by heart because of Godspell – I used this translation today because of how it renders verse 16, especially the second half: Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it.
What does it mean for us to be the light of the world that Jesus calls us to be? It means that we live into creation at its fullest. When we are being our true selves – not the ones that our culture tells us to be, not even the ones that we sometimes might want to be – but when we are being who God created us and calls us to be – that fullness of life illumines the world. When we are who God has called us to be and then doing what God has called and created us to do, people will see and notice our good actions. When we are our true selves, acting out of our devotion to God – not out of selfishness or any of the other self-centered emotions that sometimes guide us – it shines a bright light into the darkness of the world and directs those around us to our Father in heaven who made us for the fullness of life we are displaying.
Let us shine with the light that God has put within us; let us live in such a way that our fullness of life points others to the true light, Jesus Christ. Sharing God’s Love, Chip
Prayer: Jesus, you are the light of the world, but you call us to shine with your glory as well. Help us to live into who you made us to be, so that your light might shine within us. Amen.