By Jeremiah Betron
"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" Matt. 5:16 (NASB).
On those evenings when I come home after the sun has set, while driving north and looking to the west, I can see a bright light hovering just above the horizon. It has the brilliance of a star shining in the dark of the night. It glimmers just as any bright, white star on the backdrop of God’s midnight stage. In fact, the first time I saw this shimmering light I thought it was a star, but, truthfully, it is not. Rather, it is a standard mercury light mounted at the top of a farmer’s grain bin. That fact dampens the wonder of the light. Until you realize that it is eight miles due west from the position of my car as I travel up our gravel road.
Whether a brilliant star or a mercury bulb, Jesus identifies believers as “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). He goes on to instruct believers in the Sermon on the Mount, “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” (Matt. 5:16 NASB).
There are many ways to describe “light.” Light makes things visible, such as the light of the sun. It is a source of illumination, like a light bulb. There are bright lights, like a spotlight, but some light is subtle, for instance, the flickering light of a candle. It doesn’t matter if it’s a spotlight or candlelight, all light changes darkness. When light is introduced to a dark room, the room is no longer dark.
In the spiritual darkness of the world, Christ-followers are to be that piercing light. As you go about your life, your words, thoughts and actions are to change the darkness because you are the light of the world.
Since you are called by Jesus to modify the darkness, you must let your light shine. When a lampshade covers a light bulb, its radiance is restrained. If you cover that bulb and shade with a bath towel, the light almost has no effect. The greatest amount of light is seen when the shade and towel are removed.
When Jesus says, “Let your light shine,” he means that you should not cover it up, but let the whole world see it.
When someone whose life has been radically changed by Jesus does good things in the world, like caring for the poor, defending the voiceless and standing for truth, the darkness of the world is changed. It becomes a little less dark. And the result is that, when the darkness is penetrated by light, when the world sees the good things you are doing, God is glorified. Our heavenly Father gets the glory when light shines in darkness. You are the light of the world; let your light shine.
Jeremiah Betron is senior pastor at Bethel MB Church of Yale, SD.