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August 19, 2018
God’s word states that He is the source of light: “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:3-4). This is the power of God—He spoke and there was light. This is before He created the sun. God is the source of light; in addition, He created the sun as a light to govern the day (Genesis 1:14-19) and to create time and seasons for the benefit of all of His creation. He has also created His people to be light. In teaching His disciples, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). In saying this He was telling them how important they were in the world.
So far as the physical earth is concerned the sun as the source of light is vitally important. Scientists tell us that energy on earth from the sun is approximately one and one-half horsepower per each square yard of earth directly exposed to sunlight, but the earth intercepts only one two-billionth of the sun’s energy. The temperature of the outer surface of the sun is 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit, while the interior reaches 20 to 40 million degrees. The sun’s great energy is developed by transmutation of the hydrogen atom into helium. Even though the sun loses weight at the rate of 4,000,000 tons per second, we are told that it can maintain its present output of energy for 35 billion years. We are further told that if the temperature of the sun should vary only slightly either to grow hotter or colder the earth would either become a burning, lifeless desert or a mass of ice. From the physical standpoint we can see how important is this physical light that God created to govern the day. In a very special way Christians are important as “the light of the world.”
Christians are reflected light.
Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12). Jesus is the true light, and Christians reflect that light wherever they are. To reflect properly, any reflector must be kept clean. The keepers of the old lighthouses spent time in cleaning and polishing the reflectors—the safety of the ships depended upon the brilliance of that light. If Christians are to be the light of the world, they must keep themselves pure. Paul admonished young Timothy, “keep yourself free from sin” (1Timothy 5:22). The reflectors must be steady—no flickering. Christians must “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1Corinthians 15:58). The reflector must be focused on the light source. The Christian's life must be focused on the perfect example of Jesus the Christ. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1Peter 2:21). The intensity of the light is determined by the distance of the reflector to the light source. The closer the Christian is to Jesus in his own conduct the more brilliantly he will shine as “the light of the world.” Peter followed Jesus “at a distance” and wound up denying his Lord (Luke 22:54).
Light can be easily seen.
Serving humanity and doing good works can be easily seen. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). A righteous life can be easily seen. It was said of Jesus that “He could not escape notice” (Mark 7:24). Soundness in the faith can be easily seen—that is what makes false teaching so evident. If the illumination of God’s word is neglected, then how will darkness be recognized. You don’t defeat darkness by spending time with it. You don’t defeat darkness by figuring out how it works. You don’t defeat darkness by shouting, “It’s dark!” Darkness is defeated by turning the light on. Show the truth and darkness is exposed: “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light” (Ephesians 5:13). When false teachers came to Antioch, Paul and Barnabas saw that they were preaching a false doctrine and “had great dissension and debate with them” (Acts 15:2). James noted that this falsity was exposed because the things that Barnabas, Paul, and Peter spoke were the thing which “with this the words of the Prophets agree” (Acts 15:15).
Light shines for the benefit of others.
Christ the true “light of the world” left heaven and came to the world to give his life for the benefit of others. Peter said that Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). My grandfather told of a young man from an impoverished family, who, many years ago, was going away to attend a school too far away for him to remain at home. That morning his mother and sister prepared his lunch for him. About noon, when he was walking through a great forest, he decided to stop and eat his lunch. But when he opened it, he could not eat, for he realized that his mother and sister, out of their great love for him, had given him every morsel of food in the house. While tears rolled down his cheeks, he realized that those who loved him so much wanted him to have the food, wanted him to have the education. When Christians sacrifice for others, they are lights shining for the benefit of others. When Christians take the gospel, God's power to save (Romans 1:16), to a lost world, they are lights shining for the benefit of others.
Light shines brightest in the darkest surroundings.
A street light at noon can hardly be seen, but in the darkness of night its light reaches out to show the way. Christians, as sons and daughters of Adam’s race, are in the world and subject to the disappointments, sorrows, and conflicts to be found in the world, but at the same time they are not engulfed in a night of hopeless darkness. Even in facing death they are not without hope (1Thessalonians 4:13); in time of conflict there is still the “peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:7). In fact, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). There is a great difference between light and darkness. There should be, and must be, a great difference between the life of a Christian and the life of a person of the world. When this difference is not discernible, the Christian has let his reflector become tarnished and has allowed too great a distance to exist between himself and Christ, the source of the light of the world. The Christian should never forget the responsible position he occupies in the world, as clearly set forth by the apostle Peter: “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1Peter 2:9). The individual Christian lets his light shine by doing the will of God at all times. “So that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). The church, made up of Christians, lets her light shine by following the divine pattern in all things—in name, in worship, in work, in organization, in conditions of membership.