14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16
Jesus is the true light of the world, but in His graciousness, He is raising us to be adopted sons of God. He gives us of Himself so that we can be lights in this world also.
That’s an astounding thing. As Christians, we are to pursue being Christ-like, and Jesus is the only way we can obtain any measure of this. We don’t even know what that looks like properly unless we get to know Jesus personally.
The scriptures provide a great deal of insight, but they do not compare to Jesus Himself. He is not contained in any book, and we can misrepresent Him and misunderstand written words. By the Holy Spirit we can grow in understanding—both the written word of God and Jesus Himself who Is the Living Word of God.
The more we learn of Jesus and the more we are changed into His likeness, the more people take notice. We don’t have to make a show of it. In-fact, making a show of ourselves is contrary to the nature of Jesus. Instead, what is seen is a light in us that is Jesus Himself, and He cannot be hid. His light will shine through us, and when this happens, the results are mixed.
Some people like to see the light of Jesus. Others hate it. Some people feel refreshed, relieved, and safe. Others feel threatened, angry, and afraid. Jesus said that that those who follow Him would be both loved and hated by this world, and it seems to me that the more of His likeness we are given, the more we are able to see for ourselves how much this world despises the ways of God. We also see how much we have despised God.
If it were not for the grace of God, we would have no hope. Our natures are so contrary to God that we are blind to just how contrary we are because we cannot know God on our own. As frustrating as it can be to see how much the world hates God, it’s good to remember that we once did too. It’s good to consider ways in which we still might—as hard as it is to consider.
Though we love Jesus, there might be aspects of the ways of God that we are against. We have to face these things, acknowledge this truthfully to God, and perhaps He will give us the grace to love that which we once hated.
For me, I know that a lot of the things of God that I hated required me to give up on things I did not want to give up on: chiefly my foolish self-reliance. I have always had an ambitious nature, and when paired with a moderate amount of natural ability, I tend to do well at anything I seriously put my mind to.
This is not the case when pursuing the Kingdom of God. I cannot do well enough no matter how hard I try. I cannot be a “light of the world” as Jesus is by my own strength. I’m still learning to let go. I’m still learning to trust in the Lord, Jesus in all things. I’m still learning that I cannot rely on anyone. Not even myself. Least of all myself.
I also tend to be a people-pleaser by nature. I don’t like to be the cause of upset for people, and I’ve largely been love-starved in this world, so it is in my nature to try to be liked and to seek validation from others. You cannot please man and God. You cannot seek the love or approval of man and the love or approval of God at the same time. Being a Christian is often a lonely walk. It is for me at least.
Maybe I just don’t know where to look, or perhaps I am too critical when it comes to the things of God.
It seems like everyone is just too busy to care. They are focused on growing in this world, and the Kingdom of God is secondary. It also seems like everyone has their preferred mode of Christian religion, and they are not interested in questioning the authority of man so that they might know Jesus better.
Even so, I know there are many out there who love Jesus, and whatever measure of His light is in them will love the light of Him that is in me, and we will all be united one day under one banner in Christ.
Whether the world loves us or hates us for the light of Christ that is in us, God the Father and the Son are glorified. I want to write more about that, including some thoughts about what the light of Christ should be like, but this post is already getting long. So, I will write a “Part 2,” Lord willing.
This article is part of a series that considers the Parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the statements Jesus made during His Sermon on the Mount, to which He referenced in His Parable of the Building on Rock and Sand. Visit the link for quick access to all articles written within this series. Subscribe for notifications of future posts.