Sunday, December 20, 2015

Matthew 5:14-16 - CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE #2 : “ You are the Light of the World “


You are the  salt of the earth… you are  the light of the world …”. 
This statement  is made by the Lord Jesus  Christ  in the context of His   Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7). The Sermon on the Mount is  a powerful statement on the essence of Christian  character  and expression. 
What does a Christian look like? 
How do Christians express  themselves in various situations?

The Sermon on the Mount  begins  with  the beatitudes  (5:2-12), which is a description of Christian foundational attitudes and  thought processes  that undergird  a Christians actions and behaviour.  These attitudes   reveal the heart and therefore  the  motivations  from which a Christian person  acts .

Here are the heart attitudes that govern Christian  thinking :  a Christian  knows their own poverty before God  (v.3) . A true Christian mourns  because  of the sin that is in  the world (v.4). A Christian is  a strong person, and yet  meek in their spirit (v.5). A Christian  hungers and thirsts for righteousness (v.6). A Christian is merciful (v.7). A Christian  is pure in heart (v.8) and  Christians  are  not troublemakers  but  peacemakers (v.9).

All this  gives  rise  to how Christians act. Jesus gives us   many examples  here, from how  we think about the law of God (5:17-20) to how we deal with anger (5:21-26) and  sexual purity (5:27-30)  and marital fidelity (5:31-32), retaliation (5:38-42), dealing with our enemies (5:43-48), and in terms of  how we give (6:1-4) and pray (6:5-15) etc.     

But before Jesus   tells us how Christian thinking translates into acting, He  makes a statement  concerning Christian  influence. Christ has indeed created Christians  with a strong purpose, and that is to influence  their world.   In order to illustrate  this  influence   He  makes use of two metaphors : Salt and Light!   We  have already dealt  with the first metaphor, “you are the salt of the earth” in a previous  sermon.  We will now deal with the next metaphor : 

YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

[14] “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. [15] 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. [16] 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.

"You are the light of the world …“.  
You cannot read that statement without immediately remembering what Jesus says about Himself in John 8:12"I am the light of the world."  All this shows us  how  closely Christians and Christ  are related to one another. The very name “Christian" speaks of the fact that Christians   identify with the Lord Jesus Christ!

Having said that, we must immediately assert that there is a difference between His light and our light. We do not have light in ourselves. Our light is derived from Him. The apostle Paul says to the Corinthians: “For God, who said, let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6).  Christian people  become reflectors of His light. I will say more about this in a moment. 

Lighthouse in Swakopmund - Namibia 
FOUR IMPLICATIONS: “You are the light of the world"

     1.      The world is without light, and needs Christians to be light in its darkness.   This  is analogous  to what  we observed in v. 13. The  world is without salt, needing  Christian influence  to keep it from decaying as a result of the ever present  corrupting effects of sin. In the same way, Jesus says that  this world needs Christian light, because it is in darkness.   How shall we describe this darkness?  It is comparable to being in a dark room. If somebody lives in a dark room they cannot see themselves as they truly are.   An illustration  will help us to understand  this.   If there were no sun, we would not know  of the existence of our moon  or the planets in our  solar system. We only know that the moon and the planets are there, because the sun causes them to be reflected in the sky, but the moon and the planets do not have light in themselves like the sun. In the same way, the  light of Christ  that shines through His Word, and when  received,    reflects  in the lives of believers,  so that  others  may see and believe that there is a God in heaven.  

But it is unfortunately not as simple as that.  Although the light of God shines in the darkness,  the light is not understood  by the darkness. Mankind having  the benefit of the Son of God come to earth so many years  ago, and having left us His Word and His Holy Spirit remains in spiritual darkness (Eph. 2:1).  “...men love darkness instead of light because their deeds are evil” (Jn. 3:19). 

What now?
Clearly  man needs more than light. The world has received the revelation of God’s  light, but the world remains asleep in the light.  The world is like a blind man living in the light, but he cannot see the light because he is blind.  
What must happen for a blind man to see? 
A miracle! His eyes must be supernaturally opened. In His goodness   God has provided  someone  to open the eyes of the blind. He is   Jesus  the Saviour, the Light of the world, who  by the  Holy Spirit    miraculously opens  the  eyes  of the  spiritually blind. Those whose eyes are graciously opened to Jesus,  the light of the world,  the  prophecy  of  Isaiah 9:1, 2 is fulfilled in Christ (Matt. 4:16):  "the people living in the darkness have seen a great light."  

Now, if Christ is the light-bringer, then what is the role of the Christian?  The Christian's role is to “shine like stars “(Phil. 2:15). The stars(or planets)  are reflections of the true light - the sun.  So, our work is to point the world to Christ, and to   let the life of Christ be seen in us. Thus we may say that the Bible, God's Word, faithfully received  and lived and applied by any Christian, points people to Christ  and  with the help of the Holy Spirit  helps to dispel  the  spiritual darkness of  this  world. 

So, when Jesus  was physically present on this earth, He  was able to say  in John 9:5 : “While I am  in the world , I am the light of the world “. But when He left  to complete the work the Father has given Him and to  return to where He was before,  then what? He gives the charge  to His disciples!  You are the light of the world”.  The  Christian  is now called to bring  the light of the Word of God into the dark  world of men, primarily   through the preaching of the Word.  The Psalmist says : “The unfolding of your words gives light ; it gives understanding to the simple“  (Psalm  119:30) .

2.     Ordinary  Christians, even though  they  may not be  considered  very wise in terms of the world’s  wisdom  actually  have more light than an educated academic who is  not a Christian.  The ordinary Christian understand   the meaning of Hebrews  11:3 : “By faith we understand that  the universe was formed  at God’s command , so that  what is seen  was not made out of  what was visible“, but the  evolutionary scientist does not see this. This  is  because of what  Paul says in  1 Cor. 1:20 – 23   which asserts  that  God has made foolish the wisdom of  this world …through  the  preaching of Christ crucified !  Worldly philosophers do not understand this kind of wisdom.  We are not saying  that  worldly  people  cannot  make  a very accurate diagnosis of the psychological  condition of mankind, but the  world consistently fails to find  a real cure or a remedy for  the  problems of the world, because they do not know Him who is the source  of  true light.

3.       If  Christians are the light  of the world, then that defines our calling  to this  world .  Jesus   calls us “to let your light shine  before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven“.  (Matt. 5:16) That is  the Christians mission- to glorify God. That is why you exist.   In his letter to the Philippians  the apostle  Paul puts  a practical twist  on to our light-bearing.  He says :  “Do everything without complaining or  arguing, so that you may become  blameless and pure, children of God  without  fault in a crooked and  depraved generation  in which you shine  like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…”.  (Phil. 2:15)

Namibian sunset over the Atlantic  ocean
    4.       To say that we have light and then to hide it under a bowl (v.15)  is  a contradiction in terms. It is like salt-less salt. It is useless. Christians  are  the light of the world . If they hide that light, then they  are the same as a salt-less Christian.


CONCLUSION : Be a part of your local SALTWORKS and  LIGHTHOUSE  COMPANY - the local church ! 



We must see our Christian responsibility as two-fold.  For this  we want to incorporate the "Salt-metaphor"  of v.13 into this application.

1.      Like salt  we must  be  preventatives & preservatives :  All Christians   are called to  prevent the  spiritual , moral , social , economic decay  of our societies .All Christians are called  to preserve the truth as it is in Jesus  in their societies. 

2.      Like light  we must  expose  and  illuminate:  All Christians  must expose the darkness for what it is and   all Christians  must  give spiritual  direction  and counsel to a world that possesses none.  

Perhaps we can describe these two activities as "evangelism" (preaching to the lost) and "discipleship" (teaching,  equipping) .  The  church must not only be concerned with one or the other.  The church must do both.
Effective medical treatment, does not only depend upon the treatment  of sick patients, but also on preventative medicine and public health.

And so it becomes evident  what we have  asserted so strongly last week. Jesus  calls  Christians towards  a clear   involvement in this world. 
Christians must not separate themselves from the world.  

Three incentives:

1. Christians will be blessed. (See beatitudes) 
2. The world will be served.
3. God will be glorified.


Amen !

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