Text: Matthew 5:14-16 February 1, 2009.
1) Something happened in Chicago: Dr. Joe Stowell, a former president of the infamous Moody Bible Institute, was often asked about what he missed the most after retired from the institution. He always replied without hesitation that he missed the students the most. He said that he loved their passion for Jesus and the way they demonstrated it to the world around them. The Chicago police chief once said, “When the Moody students return to campus, it’s like someone turned on the lights on the Near North side of the city.”
2) Something happened in Galilee: This is exactly what Jesus had in mind when He said, “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14) It is a powerful word picture of the impact of contrast: a recognizable difference between the integrity of Christians and the prevailing darkness of the world surrounding them. This is not about making a speech for our faith. It is about people who are observing us. Even though they may not want to know about our Jesus, you can be sure they are watching us to see if Jesus makes any difference in our lives. Our capacity to shine for Jesus is measured by our good work in the world each day.
LIGHT IN THE BIBLE:
1) God created light: “In the begging God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day and the darkness he called night.” (Genesis 1:1-5)Anyone may develop a good sermon with these 5 verses with many important doctrines. But here we see clearly that God created light.
2) God used light: “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light.” (Exodus 13:21)One of the miracles in the Exodus account is the use of light by God to lead the Israelis on their way in the wilderness. Many spiritual lessons have been developed from this act of God. The obvious lesson is that God used His creation, the light, to give direction to His people, the Israelis in ancient time and all of us today. If we follow God’s leadership, we won’t be lost in darkness.
3) God is the light: “This is the message we have heard from Him and declared to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)John declared to the early Christians on the nature of God: the light. There is no darkness in God’s nature. God’s light came to earth to show us the way to Him. “In Him was life and that life was the light of men. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” (John 1:4, 9)John was inspired to introduce the coming of Jesus, the true light, who came to the world so men may find the path to God.
4) God desires light: “If we walk in the light, as God is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)John was talking about the life of Christians who must walk in the light as God is in the light. People who claim to follow Jesus must live their life in the light, not in darkness. Since we have been purified by the blood of Jesus and should not go back to live in sin.
FUNCTIONS OF LIGHT:
1) Light sustains life: Scientist may give us more scientific reasons or insight on why God created light before He created all the life forms. We don’t need to be scientists to know that living things, including human, won’t survive without light along with air and water, the two other elements God created in the very beginning. God created natural light to support natural life. He also created spiritual light through His Son Jesus Christ to sustain spiritual life in those who believe Him. No light, no life. Be it natural life or spiritual life.
2) Light breaks darkness: The Bible symbolizes darkness as sin and shame, ignorance and evil, pain and suffering. The Bible also portrays light as the piercing force that breaks the power of darkness. (John 1:4-5) When Jesus claimed that He is the true light, He offered light to all who follow Him that they will not live in darkness. (John 8:12)Wherever there is light, there is no darkness. Wherever there is the true light, the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no darkness in the life of man.
3) Light shows the way: When King David ascribed the word of God as the lamp to his feet and light for his path, (Ps. 119:105) he was talking about the word of God as light to show him the way of life. With the light in God’s word, he will not stray away from the path of God or lost in the darkness of sin.
4) Light brings salvation: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1) In the hopeless moment in the history of Israel when they mourned in captivity, God sent Isaiah to give hope to His people. God told them salvation was on the way: the Messiah will come as the light of hope and deliverance. The salvation God promised His people is more than physical deliverance from the oppression of a foreign king but a spiritual deliverance from the bondage of sin. John described the coming of Jesus, our Savior, as a light in darkness to deliver men from the bondage of sin. (John 1:4:12)
YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD: (Matthew 5:14-16)
1) A new title: When Jesus called his followers, including you and me, the light, he gave each one of us a new title. The early believers of Christ were called Christians because they reflected the character of Christ in their lives. When Jesus called his disciples “light”, he was talking about the nature of their life as little lights to reflect the true light. When someone is given a new title, he becomes a new person compatible to that new title.
2) A new purpose: “You are the light of the world.” (5:14)Jesus did more than just giving us a new title, he gave us a new purpose of that light: to shine in the world. God allows us to live in this world for a purpose: to shine his light so others may see Him. We are not the light inside the walls of the churches, we are the light to shine in the world. Christians are not to run away from the world and the evil in it. We are to enter the world, as did Jesus, with the light so others may see the light and be saved.
3) A new position: Just as a city built on the hill cannot be hidden, so is a lamp not to be hidden under a bowl but to be place on a stand where it belong. Whenever a Christian hiding under the bowl, he is not fulfilling his duties and functions as he is called to. A lamp is to be placed on a stand to properly discharging its duty or function, so a Christian needs to be placed where God wants him to shine for Him.
4) A new contribution: “So it gives light to everyone in the house.” This is the contribution each lamp would have if it is placed on the stand. To “give light” is to give oneself sacrificially for the good and benefit of others. This is why Jesus came to this world for: not to gain glory but to give himself so men can be saved. We are in this world to contribute to the well being of the world and the best contribution we can do is to show the way in this world so others may see God and be saved. Jesus has paid the price of salvation of the world on the cross. It is up to us to show the world how they can see the way to salvation.
5) A new command: “Let your light shine before men.” This is not a suggestion or a request, it is a command from our Lord. This is not a choice or option but is a command we all need to obey. The good of a light is when it shines before men so they can see and find their way. The same is true with our lives: we are to shine before men so they can see and find God. Too many Christians treat this as an option or a choice and never take actions to fulfill their duties. If we really are soldiers for Christ, we are to obey his command without excuses.
6) A new approach: “They may see your good deeds.” The scribes and the Pharisees at Jesus’ time stressed the importance of how much one knew the Law. Jesus offered a new approach: how much you act out the Law. Deeds are actions and good deeds are good action. Knowing what God wants is good. But doing what God asks is better. People may not know what we know on God and His word. But they surely can see what we do with our life. With actions, words, thoughts and attitudes we may show the world the fruits of our faith: we are different from the world because we have God in our life.
7) A new result: “And (they may) praise your Father in heaven.” (5:16)How could God receive honor and praise He deserves from the world He created? It is though our good work we bring Him the honor and praises to His name. This is the result of our shining the light: the world to bring honor and glory to our Heavenly Father.
1) Make a difference: Being a Christian is much more than get baptized, going to church, join the worship services and give tithes and offering. It is about our life demonstration of how the faith of Jesus made us different from the rest of the world in our actions, words, attitude and priority. Jesus wants us to be the light of the world and we need to try our best to fulfill that role.
2) Rid the blockage: Start from our mindset then our ways of life, try to see if there are things that obviously block the light of our faith from shining among our family, friends and the world. Ask God to help you be determined and strong in becoming a light.
3) Follow the light: God sent His light through Jesus to show you the way back to Him. This light has been presented to you today. Do not harden your heart or stay in the darkness. Take action now to accept the light, to ask Jesus into your heart as the Lord and Savior and live your life in the light.