Believers as Light (1) By Babatunde Olugboji
In Matthew 5:13 – 16 Jesus addressed His disciples thus: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness; how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 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.”
Isn’t it surprising that Jesus assured His disciples that they were not just the salt of the earth but also the light of the world? Now here were those humble ordinary disciples, Peter, John and James, who were just doing their thing as fishermen. They didn’t have much of an elaborate or powerful background. They didn’t have degrees, diplomas or certifications.
And Jesus was sitting there in the Galilee, far away from metropolitan Rome. With all of the powers of Rome and the Grecian culture centered around Athens and there on the hillside above the Sea of Galilee, to this sort of motley little crew Jesus said, hey, you are the light of the world. Isn’t that incredible? Doesn’t that tell you how Jesus sees you as a believer? You may think of yourself as inconsequential, unimportant and ordinary, but you need to start seeing yourself as Jesus sees you: as someone who has been equipped to influence this dark world. Jesus is telling someone today; you are the light that should shine in a dark environment known as Planet Earth.
This description and mandate may well be characterized as perhaps the greatest compliment that was ever paid to His disciples, for in doing so, Jesus commanded the believer to be what Jesus himself claimed to be: “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5) When Jesus commanded His followers to be the light of the world, He was demanding that they should be like Him.
And when Jesus spoke these words, He was using an expression which was quite familiar to the Jews. They themselves spoke of Jerusalem as “a light to the Gentiles,” and a famous Rabbi was often called “a lamp of Israel.” The radiance which shines from the believer comes from the presence of Christ within the Christian’s heart.
We will end here by looking at one of the enduring characteristics of light.
A light is first and foremost something which is meant to be seen. In those days, the houses in Palestine were very dark with only one little circular window perhaps not more than 18 inches across. The primary duty of the light of the lamp was to be seen. So, then, Christianity is something which is meant to be seen. As someone said, “There can be no such thing as secret discipleship, for either the secrecy destroys the discipleship, or the discipleship destroys the secrecy.”
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