I once heard an amazing thought from an inner city Detroit pastor. He told me that in his neighborhood, a tough place dominated by the gangs, prostitutes, and drug dealers, he is the man of God.
He looks around his neighborhood and witnesses crimes, seedy behavior, and kids growing up way too fast. This pastor has seen his share of trying moments including his church being vandalized and burned down.
And still he remains.
Because he is the man of God in the neighborhood, or in another way: the light to his community.
While your situation may not be as dire as this Detroit pastor, you still are called to be the light. The light in your school, the light to your friends, the light to your ex-spouse, the light to your enemies.
This isn’t a revolutionary idea in 2016; it’s a deep-rooted Christian principle. We are to be the light to the world.
But I think what may not be highlighted in understanding this principle is just how, and why, we are to be the light.
This week’s Scripture passage is from Matthew 5:14, “Be the light.”
Just a reminder that this post is part of a larger series: Color Your Way Closer to God. If you are just joining feel free to check out the beginning of the series here. Before we continue, a quick note about the purpose this coloring series. At Spiritually Hungry, we love to connect with God in many, many different unique and creative ways. The purpose of the Color Your Way Closer to God series is to use coloring Scripture as a way to meditate on God’s word. In this way, we use it as a spiritual exercise, one with the intent to grow close to God by opening up to Him while coloring Scripture.
Of course Jesus is the light in which this passage is referring to, Jesus is the light of world, John 8:12.
Jesus presence on this earth, His light, was so profound, so impactful that here we are today 2,000 years later still talking about it.
Why is that?
Is it because He is:
Son of God?
King of kings?
Well all of these and countless others.
There was never anyone like Jesus.
Jesus was one of a kind.
He was unique.
Jesus was an individual.
What Jesus did on this earth was simply astonishing. He left the Heavenly realms, the perfect union with God, to come down into our mess. He not only sacrificed His body so that we can be in harmony with God again, He literally walked us through the process of following God and showing God’s love to all.
Jesus lightened this world, because Jesus showed the world God’s truth, mercy and love. And the world desperately needed this, and still does.
Jesus tells His listeners in Matthew 5:14-18, the Voice translation:
“And you, beloved, are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. Similarly it would be silly to light a lamp and put it under a bowl. When someone lights a lamp, she puts it on a table or a desk or a chair, and the light illuminates the entire house. 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.”
What a beautiful message from our King, and what an amazing comfort!
I want to take note of a couple of things from this passage:
1.) Jesus is likening us to Him.
In verse 14 He tells us that we are the light of the world, just like He calls Himself in John 8:12. Jesus is telling us we are just like Him!
The profound nature this of this revelation is astonishing. God is telling us we are no different from Him, because we are His bearer in this world. We make a difference because God working through and in us.
2.) The Light needs to be shone everywhere you go.
The world needs it. And what Jesus is talking about when He refers to putting a light under a table, is that when you have something that will help people, like light helps us see, you need to put it out there so other people can obtain the same thing you have. In other words, you must not keep secret your relationship with Jesus.
Can you imagine if Jesus wasn’t Jesus?
I mean, if Jesus came to this earth and knew all He knew about God and what the world needed, but decided that He wasn’t going to share the Good News?
Our world would look drastically different, wouldn’t it? And that doesn’t just go for Jesus. What about your favorite Christian author, pastor, leader, friend? What if they didn’t share God’s light to you?
Would your world look the same? Do you think you would be different?
I often think of my favorite Christian author, Brennan Manning. Brennan has done a lot of me in my life. If you know anything about Brennan Manning, then you know he struggled profoundly. He had so many low points, spots on his journey where he could have easily threw the towel in. But he didn’t. He kept allowing God’s love to wash over him, and he went forth with that message, of not being perfect but knowing he was loved by God.
I admit that I have often struggled to share God’s light too. But I can’t help to think about Brennan and the countless other Christian leaders who have shaped my life by being the light to me. I know that God has used Brennan and all the others for me to become closer to Him. When I think in these terms, it all makes sense, that I must do for others what so many have done for me.
And that is share with the world, through my actions, words and deeds, Christ’s light in my life.
Because we all know this world needs Jesus.
We live in a really dark place. An environment that hates light, but that’s exactly what it needs. The light illuminates the dark places and highlights the path.
People desperately need the light, the light you bear from your relationship with God.
So that’s the why we are to be the light.
Remember that uniqueness of Jesus I wrote of earlier?
Well applies to you too!
This is really important for you to understand.
Do you know you are uniquely made?
There is no one else like you.
You are one of a kind.
You are special, unique and important.
What you do matters.
And what Christ did mattered too.
Often times, we Christians look to Jesus as a carbon copy of who we are supposed to be, but I don’t think that’s a correct way of thinking.
1.) Jesus’ ministry and life had a specific calling on it, as we all do. Jesus’ call was different then yours and mine. Just like my call is different than yours.
Think of it this way – it’s like a sun catcher. When the sun hits different prisms, various colors are reflected. It’s the same with the angle of the light that comes through. The light is always the same, but the way its projected is different.
In the same way, we all have a calling from God that is similar – coming from the same source of light – but as that calling hits us, it is reflected in many different ways.
2.) The disciples didn’t look exactly like Jesus either. Paul’s ministry looked very different from Jesus’ and so did Peter’s. Jesus’ ministry and impact on their life informed and guided them in their ministry. It was a ministry that flowed directly out of a relationship with Jesus and celebrated their uniquenesses.
The disciples were created unique, and it’s a celebration of God and an awareness to how He creates.
In addition, the disciples and us have all experience God differently. That experience informs and shapes us. We literally become different people because of God’s presence and work in our lives. We don’t lose our uniqueness, we actually step into a more sanctified version of ourselves, a cleaner one.
The world needs you to share what Jesus has done for you and in you.
This doesn’t mean you need to become a street evangelist, but what it does mean is that you take on the love of Christ and allow that to inform your words, decisions and actions.
That’s why this Scripture is so vital to us as Jesus followers. Being the light of the world isn’t about losing your uniqueness, but rather celebrating it and sharing it!
So how do you do this?
It begins by being open to sharing God to those your encounter throughout the day.
40 Very Simple Ways to Be the Light
- Responding to a stranger with a smile
- Giving a gift
- Helping someone out
- Invest in a person who needs and wants to be mentored
- Opening your home up for a holiday dinner to people who don’t have a lot of family or a recent death in their family
- Making a food item for someone sick or grieving, or just struggling in life
- Walking your neighbor’s dog
- Letting someone go before you in the checkout line.
- Sending a card to someone who you just met or maybe lost contact with
- Saying hello to people you see during the day, whether you know them or not
- Checking in with a person who lost a loved one through out the whole year, especially major holidays and anniversaries.
- Calling your mom or dad and say, “Thanks!”
- Buying a meal for the person behind you in line or at the next table
- Going to the grocery store for an elderly person in your life
- Praying for your enemies or people who annoy you
- Taking your boss out to lunch
- Surprising your spouse or best friend with an appreciation letter
- Helping someone become more comfortable in a new setting (maybe a new neighbor or a new person at church. Invite them to sit with you or take them on a tour. If it’s a new neighbor, stop by and introduce yourself to them and tell them the best pizza joint!)
- Buying a ticket for someone to go on a retreat, maybe through your church youth ministry or young adult ministry
- Planting flowers or cleaning up a persons yard
- Stopping to notice and talk to a child
- When someone says or does something that touches you, let them know. Tell them how they have encouraged you or helped you.
- Babysitting (free) a child in your life so the parents can have a night off
- Try to have real conversations with people, not just small talk or talk that isn’t uplifting i.e. complaining, gossiping, etc.
- Sponsoring a child
- Sending a thank you note to a person who made a difference in your life
- Instead of avoiding or giving money to a person asking for a handout, offer to buy them a meal
- Forgiving someone who wronged you and letting them know you forgive them
- Helping someone move
- Parking at the back of the parking lot to leave open the better spots
- Going to visit someone in your life who may need company whether it be a person in the hospital, homebound or grieving friend
- Volunteering your time with an organization that needs your gifting
- Hold the door for someone and smile and say hello.
- Bring an unexpected cup of coffee to a co-worker.
- Tutor a child or teen in a topic you are knowledgeable.
- Introduce yourself to someone at a gathering that clearly does not know many others.
- Speaking with the person who is your cashier at the store. Stopping and asking them how their day is going.
- Giving up your seat for someone whether on the bus, church gathering or office meeting.
- Offer to help a single parent with chores around the house
- While driving, think about how you are driving your car. Are you tailgating, driving too quickly past pedestrians, cutting people off? Try to remember that even in your car you can practice being the light by driving with courtesy and patience
It doesn’t always have to be these big moments where we are the light.
It’s actually all of these little unnoticeable moments that propel the Kingdom of Heaven Forward.
So go be creative, be unique and shine God’s glorious light through you!
How about you? Do you have any ideas for being the light to the world, please let us know by sharing below!