Throughout His ministry, Jesus instructed His followers concerning their function in popular culture. Nowhere is that message clearer than in the following Scripture:
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Light by its very nature is distinctive; light attracts attention. Jesus’ rational in the text is obvious—a city located on a hill can be seen from incredible distances in the darkness of night; it cannot be hidden (v.14). The same logic is used for the placement of navigational beacons on mountaintops and prominent land features. They are intentionally positioned for maximizing visibility from great distances to provide guidance in the dark.
Light also has functionality; light illuminates. The lamps used to light homes in Jesus’ day were small, oil burning and made of terracotta. Replicas are readily available for purchase in Israel; and, while largely decorative and not recommended for home use, these stylized lamps easily illuminated our family room when conveniently placed for maximum effect.
Jesus simple illustration forces us to acknowledge that lighting a lamp and putting a cover over it is irrational.
Lighting a lamp and then hiding it under a basket not only diminishes its brilliance, but suppresses its power to illuminate.
How do we apply Jesus’ words to 21st century living?
As people of faith, we have the mandate and power to communicate truth to our culture. In figurative usage, “light” in Scripture always refers to truth. The psalmist declares, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105). Speaking to God the Father, Jesus declared, “Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17).
In a very real sense, people of biblical faith are light bearers. But, we have a choice. You can shroud your light rendering your influence powerless on culture; or, you can be the light of truth by consistently living in accordance with Scriptural principles with a powerful effect on the darkness in the world.
Today, don’t ignore, fear or curse the darkness; “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (v. 16)!
1) Bible opened to Isaiah. By, Ken Horn, [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) Be Light, (as in Matthew 5:14-16). By Andrikkos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement of stationary image detail: MKM Portfolios
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.