On Being and Remaining the Light of the World
by Minister Paul J. Bern
(John 1, verses 4-5; Ephesians 5, verses 8-14; Matthew 5, verses 14-16)
We've all heard or seen the expression “let your little light shine”. This is a truism that dates all the way back to the time of Christ, and it is documented in all the Gospels in one way or another. The apostle Paul also mentioned it in his letter to the church at Ephesus, more commonly known as the book of Ephesians. However, I am posting this commentary because the Holiday season is upon us, and because I am becoming increasingly aware that much of the world has turned to darkness. I am observing the lights of justice, truth, empathy and compassion being snuffed out all over the world.
The ultimate Light, that of Jesus Christ the Son of God, never goes out. The apostle John, the younger half-brother of Jesus, wrote about it in his story, known simply as the Gospel of John: “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John chapter 1, verses 4-5) Two thousand years later, things are much the same as this. The reason some evil people stay that way is because they prefer the darkness to the light. They perceive the Light of Christ, but they despise it because evil people have darkened souls. They naturally gravitate towards things like murder, kidnapping or hostage-taking, sexual or other physical assault, and all kinds of thefts. They cannot be trusted under any circumstances. They are dangerous and they are prevalent. Such people should be avoided at all costs.
The apostle Paul also wrote on the topic of the Light of Christ, and I quote: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: 'Wake up, oh sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'” (Ephesians chapter 5, verses 8-14)
When any person becomes a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ, they become an entirely new person. Without Christ, one is in darkness because they rely only on their five senses, which can easily deceive us. But with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, our senses are taken to a higher level with the addition of a Spiritual sense known as discernment. A discerning spirit within any given individual is not easily taught because it takes a lifetime to acquire one. You've heard or read that the best things in life are those that take the longest time. Discernment is one of those things, a subject that I myself have yet to master. But I continue to learn from the Lord daily, and I exhort you all to do the same.
The “fruit of the light”, Paul the apostle wrote, consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth. This lines up with what I wrote back at the beginning of this post and vice versa. Paul then wrote, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” I can think of one person who has been in the news off and on forthe last several years who has made it his mission in life to do exactly that. Of course, I'm talking about Mr. Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor and government whistle-blower who blew the lid off of the NSA's and FBI's massive secret collection of people's mobile phone data. Secret spying of American citizens is prohibited by law. As such this domestic espionage can be defined as deeds of darkness, and Mr. Snowden, who is a modern-day hero as far as this preacher is concerned, has gone out of his way to expose them just as the apostle Paul said and wrote.
Those who take videos of police brutality against citizens are another modern-day example of following this precept of Paul's. But then the apostle wrote, “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible......This is why it is said: 'Wake up, oh sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you'.” What light was Paul referring to here? The Light that is the person of Jesus Christ, of course! It is said that the only thing the Roman soldiers who were guarding Jesus' tomb saw when Jesus rose from the dead was a blinding light. When the dead in Christ arise with the rapture of the Church, we too will be instantly transformed into Spiritual beings of light. This is likely to happen in our lifetimes. Now there is something to look forward to!
Last but certainly not least, let's examine what Jesus himself had to say about walking in and being a part of the Light we are discussing. I quote from the Gospel of Matthew: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew chapter 5, verses 14-16)
If we are in fact “the light of the world” in the sight of Christ, shouldn't we be acting like it? And if we are the light of the world in Jesus' sight, how much more will we be for the Father? Whether we get a good or positive reaction from others that we try to do this for or not is besides the point. Because ultimately, we're not doing this for them, nor for ourselves, but for God, because He is watching us. A city at night cannot be hidden. Let's not hide the Light that exists inside each of us (whether we realized that up until now or not is besides the point). Those who refuse to let His light shine, or who won't let it in at all, dishonor God, themselves, and even their family and friends. Since we are all God's unique and distinct creations, let's honor God by expressing our thankfulness and gratitude towards Him for creating us and for keeping us alive all these years. After all, what else can we do?