Ewald Schmidt
'You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16, NIV
Most of us cannot see very well in darkness. This makes us afraid to be outside when darkness falls and we are not securely in our homes yet. We associate darkness with danger. Wild animals can see much better than us; predators could be stalking us in the darkness. Criminals like to do evil deeds in the darkness, when it is easier to escape unseen. In wartime, attacks at night are much more intimidating. We were not made to be creatures of darkness. We are afraid of the dark.
In the Bible, darkness is symbolic of the world outside God’s kingdom, where Christ is not served as Lord. It is seen as the habitat of evil and we find a number of warnings in the Bible against the works of darkness.
Jesus invites us to come and walk safely in his light. The apostle John described him as “the light of the world” in John 1:9. When we follow Christ, he makes us part of his ministry to let the light of God shine in this world. The first impression of this image is the use of a small oil lamp in those ancient times. It did not shine very brightly compared to modern lights, but cast a warm and friendly glow of light around it. It was set high on a lamp stand so that the light would be available for all the people in the house. Then, no one would bump into furniture and the children could finish their homework in time.
We are challenged to let the soft light of Christ shine around us, sharing the love of Jesus wherever we go. When a lamp is put underneath a bowl, it would die from lack of oxygen. The warning is to let our light shine; we are not to be secret agents of Christ in this world, hiding our faith.
The second image is that of a town built on a hill. One light on its own may look dim and unimpressive. But when a community of lights shine together in a town, the effect is undeniable. We would have seen this if we were on a road trip at night. You can see the glow of a city’s lights from a distance. As you draw nearer, the glow becomes individual lights, encouraging you to arrive safely at your destination. May the combined lights of God’s children in this world cast a warming glow in the darkness of this world, inviting others to come home to the beacon of hope.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the light shining brightly in the darkness of this world. Your message of love and hope have turned my world around. You invited me to share your light in my path of life. Let your light cast a warming glow around me, inviting others to come home to you. Amen.