Ye are the light of the world
John 8:12; Matthew 5:14-16
How can Jesus call us the light of the world?
If you ask a typical non-Christian how they think of the church, “Light of the world” is unlikely to feature in their response. Surely Christians are inconsequential, impotent – dim. Or perhaps they are compromised by hypocrisy – murky. Or maybe the church is an irredeemably dark institution.
How can Jesus call us the light of the world? Certainly not because of any natural brilliance.
No, Christians are the light of the world simply because Christ is.
Just think of the ways the believer is united to Jesus.
He is our Head, we are His body.
He is our Bridegroom, we are His bride.
He is the Vine, we are the branches.
These descriptions speak of mutual interplay. But there are other descriptions in which we become just what Christ is, because we are bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh (Genesis 2:23)
He is the Son, we are sons.
He is the Firstborn, we’re the church of the firstborn (Heb 12:23)
He is the Chosen One, we are chosen ones.
He is the Anointed One, we are anointed ones. (2 Cor 1:21)
He is the Righteous One, we are righteous ones. (2 Cor 5:21)
He is Abraham’s Seed, we are Abraham’s seed (Gal 3:16, 29)
But perhaps nowhere is the identity more glaring than here. Jesus is the Light of the world (John 8:12), yet He says to His followers:
Ye are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)
Corporately and by grace we are what Christ is individually and by nature. He shines as the outgoing brilliance of the Father’s love. We shine as the outgoing radiance of Christ’s. And a dark world is lit up.
What does it mean to be the light of the world?
Apparently the world has no light of its own. The true Light that enlightens everyone is Christ (John 1:9). The church is His reflected light into the world. Christ is like the sun, we are the moon. But the world has no source of light itself. By nature it is a dark place. Whatever light it enjoys is the reflected glory of Christ and His people.
As Christians living in the midst of the world, we can sometimes feel the surrounding darkness very keenly. There is a kind of power to darkness, a dreadful and stifling energy. And we might feel intimidated by the darkness. But we should know this: Light and darkness are not equal opposites. Darkness is not a thing – it’s the lack of a thing. Light drives out darkness, darkness cannot drive out light. Where light is, the darkness must flee. The light will always win, in the end.
The only need is for the church to be itself. Today let’s remember that we are this light. Tomorrow we’ll see how we’re meant to shine.