Light of the world

One of the things the Pharisees couldn’t stand about Jesus was the crowd he hung around. They didn’t know what to do with someone who claimed to be a Rabbi yet spent his time with undesirables. Tax collectors. Drunks. Adulterers. Prostitutes.

How could he?

Here’s his answer: “I’m the light of the world” (John 8:12). Sorta hard for light to affect something it doesn’t touch. He came to call sinners to repentance, but they never would’ve heard it if he hadn’t walked the streets on their side of town.

We don’t have a problem with that, though, because we like the idea of Jesus associating with outcasts. After all, he’s the Son of God, so he’s perfect, blameless. Their sin couldn’t rub off on him.

But notice the huge change in pronoun here:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).

Sometimes he said, “I’m the light of the world,” but here he says “You” are.

As in me. As in you.

We are the light of the world.

It’s a reflected light, of course, because we can’t generate any on our own. We reflect his light to a dark world so that they may see it and glorify him.

But there’s an important point that we shouldn’t miss. In order for us to light up the world, we’ve got to be in the world. We’ve got to be intentional about spending time with people who don’t know Christ so that they might see him in us.

I might be tempted to schedule my days so that I spend time with people who look, think, and talk like me. You might be tempted just to go to work or school and do what you’ve got to do so you can get back home to your safe place.

But Jesus calls us to do more than that. He calls us to walk their streets. He asks us to get to know them, understand them, really see them.

Thousands of people in our communities live in a very dark world, and they might never see the light if you and I seclude ourselves—either physically or emotionally—and connect only with people just like us.

You are the light of the world.

To be honest, that scares me, because it pulls me out of my comfort zone, away from my safe place. But discipleship has never really been about being comfortable, has it? If we follow Jesus, we’ll go where he goes, and that means we’ll spend quite a bit of time with messed up people. They’re the ones who really need his light.

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