Usually anyone who acquires knowledge that benefits mankind gets referred to as light of this world or light provider to the world. The Jews conferred this title on Rabbi Jochanan for his deep knowledge and understanding of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Lord Jesus, on the other hand blessed the twelve disciples with this honor right at the start of His earthly ministry. They were called ‘the light of the world’ despite being from very humble beginnings and little or no education and no training from the Messiah till that time. But is this blessed title applicable to all believers even today irrespective of their education or understanding of the Scriptures?
What does being light of the world imply? – It is important to first notice that just at the beginning of His ministry, Lord Jesus conferred this blessed state of being light of the world on the disciples. The first important message, the Sermon on the Mount, contains this blessing which would affect humanity till His second coming. It was not a group of rich, well educated elite that was called with this blessed title but ordinary fishermen and others from similar backgrounds living with various doubts about life itself with no knowledge to find answers. Title was given to them not for what they were but what He would make them to be; not for their knowledge but for their character for their faith in Him made them thus.
Later Lord Jesus did proclaim that ‘I Am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12). Famous theologian and Pastor, John Piper says “Lord Jesus speaks this from God, as God and for God’. Spiritual light of God’s glory is revealed, not created and it is that Light which makes the earth fit to have a specific form and to be a partner in creation (Genesis 1:1-17). As believers we receive the Word and this Living Word gives new life to our dead souls and fills us to make us as light bearers for Him and His kingdom. Then His desires, His speech, His will and His deeds are performed through our sinful bodies for His Divine light penetrates the deep recesses of our soul. This Divine light keeps increasing as we grow in faith, making us as a lighthouse for others in darkness. Seeking holiness even without much knowledge of Scripture, makes us as light of the world for He makes us what He desires us to be and these words are relevant for and spoken to all believers. Light must be given to us by the imparting of the Holy Spirit on baptism and only then can we become able to be light for others. in a room full of darkness His Word comes as a beam of light which first lights up what is in its path and once lit up those particles then illuminate the surrounding darkness to show the path of salvation to others.
What are the works of this light of the world? – The indwelling Holy Spirit uses us as light of the world to firstly, reveal the darkness of the souls of those around us. The identity and thickness of darkness all around is seen through the power of discernment of spirits and then lead into God’s Divine light by removing unbelief, reproving sin and help in facing opposition. Darkness does not comprehend light and fights against the same. thus we are not to judge but their own souls condemn and guide on the way forward under the urging of God’s Spirit. Secondly, this light reveals truths of the Gospel through our witness, the healing power of the Gospel on body and soul thereby comforting through God’s peace while washing away gloom. God specifies that beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news of the Gospel, especially to the sick and the dying making us as lamps that bring cheer to lead onto the path of salvation (Isaiah 52:7).
Why does God use mankind to be light of the world and not His angels? – God alone knows what is the best way to reach His people with the message of salvation. Angels though are more intelligent than human beings but they may not be in a position to understand the state of each individual and then reach out in compassion, as a man can, for he has undergone similar state of deep darkness and despair. Various aspects of suitability of mankind for this assignment could be – first, light saves light givers from many evils of the world for we like to hide behind facades and crowds while we condemn sin in others and the society. True conviction helps to focus on self, salvation and personal sins leading to transformation. Prophet Nathan after telling a parable, points his finger at king David, saying, “you are the man” to convict him about his sin with Bathsheba leading to repentance and forgiveness (2 Samuel 12:7). Lighted candle shines all around and though you get light we cannot be useful to self also without being useful to others around. Apostle Paul and Silas were miraculously touched by God’s hand in the prison after suffering severe beating in Philippi. The Jailer realized his sinful state and sought them to know the way, to be told, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). Increased light of Gospel saves self first, then the household and then we reach out to others. Our resultant personal holiness affects others for to do good we must be good also.
Two, light prevents isolation in religion – I cannot be alone for we are the light of the world and first it is my personal repentance and after I make Him mine only then can I shine for others. In church we are all brothers and sisters to each other bound by a relationship in the Lord while giving light to each other also. Each stone is joined together to make His house where we are one in Lord Jesus despite our singleness of personal relationship with God. Three, separated from the world but loving others within – Apostle Paul cautions all believers, ‘Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2). Thus though we are in the world but not of it for we are children of God and part of heavenly family. Further, we are not to lay up treasures here but in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20) but it does not mean I am better than others since as light of the world we act as servants or friends to help others. Lord Jesus preached that the sick need a physician and we are to help the spiritually sick find healing in God’s Son, the Living Word (Mark 2:17). Just as the sun, moon and stars provide light and cheer all around, so are we required to do. Though light is separated from darkness but since God wants to bless them through us, we reach out to them in a spirit of love and compassion.
Four, though giving light but not fatalists – We do not move in the attitude that God chooses so we need not do anything for He will save them. Water reaches the dry places through a channel and we are that channel for if God is to do everything then why even eat for God would provide direct nourishment to the body. The disciples carried the light despite great sufferings and we were saved and God’s love is displayed in the sacrifice of His Son and now we are to be prepared to die for others as carriers of Divine grace (1 John 3:16 ). As light bearers for others we are to be ready always to ‘Preach the Word. Be ready in season and out of season’ (2 Timothy 4:2).
Five, Light bearers fulfill their God assigned our task – The first task to Adam and Eve was to occupy and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28) and the Lord Jesus commanded “go to all nations and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Filled with His light we shine bright in His light and light up other lamps to overcome darkness of the world, of the body and soul. The psalmist cries out in agony, “Woe is me that I dwell in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar” (Psalm 120:5). But I am placed there by God to light up the darkness and this comforts me for my heaven is where I can best glorify God otherwise I have failed. Apostle Paul declares “to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21) for he desired to be and to do all for His Divine glory.
As light of the world we help in averting many evils through personal example. Late Mr P. A . Sangma, a well known believer in India, while answering the charge about Christian’s converting people in the Indian Parliament said, Yes, we convert people to be better human beings for we transform lives through education and removing darkness of the mind and soul”. We are the light of the world and that is our role.
Should all believers risk their lives – It is not only God’s command to us but also provides great benefits in our lives when we reach out to others. The disciples ventured out into the whole world with the message, suffered grievous torture and death so that we could be saved. If they had not we would all have perished in darkness of sin and evil. The Scripture desires from all of us to “give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God for you in Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and when I reach out to light up others I remember His blessings that I have received in my life and offer thanks. Lord Jesus proclaimed, “When someone repents there is great rejoicing in heaven” (Luke 15:7) and I rejoice once the newly lit lamp bears His light like a mother rejoices after child birth when all pain is forgotten. We also shine brighter with encouragement to move when God’s Spirit touches others’ lives through us.
Second, reaching out helps us hold on to the Gospel – Busy workers have no time to get involved in heresies whereas an idle man’s head is easily convinced to work for the devil by inventing theories. A sincere worker believes and lives under sovereign grace and being light for others forces us to seek reinforcement of Divine light daily. Lord Jesus did this through regular prayers for giving light not only drains our spiritual strength that needs recharging but also burns out our personal dark spots.
Three, Working for the Lord helps in personal spiritual growth – It is only when we move forward in faith towards others that our hidden talents are revealed and our mental, spiritual and physical boundaries are expanded. A hunting dog usually seen as lazing around, suddenly leaps at the scent of a hunt and in like manner, a diligent worker finds hitherto unknown energy to move towards others. Unexpected answers are received through the Holy Spirit and given to unexpected questions for Lord Jesus promised that the “Holy Spirit will teach you all things” (John 14:26) and He helps us reach our full potential.
Four, it develops, matures and polishes our graces – While preparing the topic and detailed notes for our video programs every time we have to seek a message from the Lord. And then we pray, “You did this last time Lord, help us again to take the message of Your Word to others” and it exercises and strengthens our faith. Also it teaches patience, love, hope, zeal and leads towards regular transformation while helping us in becoming like our Lord, which for me is a very very long journey. Do not retire into misery for self and making other miserable but seek opportunities to use God given talents for His kingdom work.
Five, provides satisfaction, happiness and dignity – A candle is consumed by burning but the light hidden within is revealed as a blessing for others while eventually our light will be dimmed and darkness of death will overcome to reveal His glorious light on the other side. Present age looks towards us and the future depends on us for the ripples created by our reaching out as light touch far and wide, up to some places we may not have imagined for He uses us to reach those He has chosen, to give us the glory and happiness.
Six, there is eternal impact of our work as light givers – Cain murdered his brother Abel and was questioned by God about his whereabouts. But he replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper” (Genesis 4:9). We are either keepers of our brothers or their murderers for to let them reap eternal damnation in hell when we could have saved them with our outreach is like murdering them. Cherubim and seraphim worship God in heaven but we are more blessed for we carry the light of His love to others and this light that we carry within for others gives them eternal life.
Seven, we seek Divine guidance and help daily – We deny ourselves and personal interests to be light bearers and as a result our personal relationship with God gets greatly improved and strengthened. We understand the sinners state for we have traveled the route whereas an angel will probably scare the recipient and may not be that effective.
An ambassador is better than others and is considered closer to the King for he is sent to represent Him and negotiate peace and criteria for selection also include personal capability. But I must keep trimming the wick to give light and be charged daily otherwise over time I will have a burn out. Simon of Cyrene would never have imagined on that fateful day that he would be required to carry the cross “for and behind” Lord Jesus. In like manner we have to be ever ready for we do not know when the Lord will have use for His light in us to brighten someone else’s life. He can do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we may think or imagine” but He blesses us by giving us a chance. Am I surrendering myself to Him for His use for the timing of His call can never be predicted!!