You Are the Light of the World

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Mt 5:14-16 – 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.

You are salt. You are light. Both declarative statements by Jesus. It's not you could be or should be, but you ARE salt and now we read.....light.  Last week we mentioned what is  necessarey to be the salt of the earth. Remember? Salt is a forsaker, as followers of Jesus we must forsake, that is prioritize. We must  give Jesus and His Word top priority in our life.

And now having made Him our top priority, we must give evidence of that priority to the occupants of the world. It's interseting to note that salt is associated with the earth and light associated with the world. What's the difference? Salt applied to the earth speaks of an impediment to the corruption of sin. So as Christians who insist on making Jesus and His word our top priority, we act as a curb to corruption,  which is one of the proper uses of the Law.

Light on the other hand encompasses more than that which decays, (earth) it is applied to all that needs life. Light is life giving isn't it? It is necessary for growth, and it is necessary to dispel darkness, and this speaks of the gospel. And so we might say that you are the gospel of the world...the Good News!

In 2 Cor 4:3,4 we read, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Let that be a lesson for us. First of all that the light we possess is the gospel, and secondly if anyone is going to “veil it”, if anyone is going under a bushel basket, let it be the unbeliever who is forced to make a choice when confronted with light. He must either draw near like a moth to the flame and die to self, or retreat to darkness like a scorpion to continue in sin.  

We are not to veil that light. Jesus told Nicodemus in Jn 3:19-21, “ And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. (part of being light is being a contrast between good and evil) For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.”

So we who are light, are to carry out deeds that clearly indicate that God is in it. And people can see that God is in it, when they measure our deeds against His Word.  Salt and light. Law and Gospel. As Christians we bring both to bear.

The word “light” here in the Greek is phos. And it means unkindled light. Let's think through the implications of that. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 jn 1:5) God is unkindled light, that speaks of Him being eternal.

Jesus said in Jn 8:12, “I am the (unkindled) light  of the world. Whoever follows Me (remember what we said about following Jesus last week? Whoever makes Him and His Word their top priority) will not walk in darkness (live darkly) but will have the light of life.”  (in them)

Now this is not to say that since He now calls you the light of the world that you are God, it simply means that in baptism, He has brought that unkindled light and all it's life to dwell in your soul. You did not kindle that light, He did. That's the beauty of baptism. It is by grace you are saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.

But now, having been kindled,  you must tend the light by continuing in belief, and by faith letting  that light shine before men. A light under a bushel basket is not only hidden, but is in danger of going out due to a lack of fuel.   

If you've ever traveled to Milwaukee on US 41 you can't help but see the church on the top of Holy Hill. It can't be hidden. This is the way we should be with us as well. Not only as individuals but as a Body of believers with Christ as it's head!

Jesus said in Jn 12:32 , “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, (when Jesus is made the highest priority over everything on this earth) will draw all people to Myself.” As Holy Hill catches the eye and draws it, so must we.

The thing to remember about salt and light is they both expend themselves, and thus are the opposite of any and every kind of self-centered religiousity. It's not about you is it? It's not about me! It's not about us. It's not about hoarding the truth. It's about Him.  2 Cor 5:15 says, “and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.”

As we make Jesus and His Word our top priority we will be like that church on top of Holy Hill.....unmistakeable and intriguing, above the profanity and commonality of the world, and an open invitation to all to come and see.

Jesus states the obvious about light.  You don't light a candle and stick it under a bushel basket. You need to have light in prominent places to help people see. You can't just stay on top of Holy Hill and maintain that you have light and then not bring it to bear on darkness.

What if the disciples would've stayed in Jerusalem? One big bonfire and that's it! But they didn't. They headed out with the torch of the gospel and brought light to the world. So, in the same way, go to people and let them see your unkindled light. Let people see Jesus in you! And again, this is not some act you put on. It's a natural outflowing of a person or a church who has made Jesus and His Word their top priority.

People need to be talking about you. They need to be talking about Living Word Lutheran church. And it's not that we go around bragging about all the good things we do. No! We just live for Jesus, putting Him and His Word first,  and then let the chips fall where they may.

How does this work? How do we know that people will talk about us? Well, let's look at the early church.

Acts 2:44, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as they had need. And day by day attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And  the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

People noticed, they were drawn to the effects of the Gospel in these people and they were saved.

Romans 1:8 – First, I thank God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.”

People were talking about the Romans and their faith!

The word was out about the Ephesians as well...”because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and your love toward all the saints.” (Eph 1:15)

And the Colossians....' We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints.” ( Col 1:3,4)

Well, you get the idea. Our faith....what we believe, and how we live it out should be the topic of conversation.

Love of God and love of neighbor are to be evident! Why? So people may see our good works and give glory to God!

But what are good works? They are anything done by a follower of Jesus Christ, prompted by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God through faith. If you do something or don't do something because you have been instructed by God's Word, that is a good work.  In other words live trusting and obeying this Word.

These good works will follow those who have true faith in Jesus. Faith without works is dead. Faith without light is dead.

The Holy Spirit speaking through the Apostle Paul makes this abundantly clear as he presents his testimony to King Agrippa: Notice the mentions of “light” in his testimony.:

 Ac 26:13 "at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. (The unkindled light of God!)
 14 "And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
 15 "So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
 16 'But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.
 17 'I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,
 18 'to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan (who is blinding them) to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'
 19 "Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
(How was Paul not disobedient to this vision?

 20 "but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, (turn to phos...the light!) and do works befitting repentance.  (befitting their turning)
“Turning from darkness to light involves repentance and repentance is evidenced or proven to be true, by a desire to trust and obey. (do good works.)

A parpahrase of this verse in the Greek would sound something like this: Turn to the unkindled light and do works suitable for drawing praise to God because of His reversal of His decision against you.

We do works for the purpose of drawing praise toward God. To give glory to God is to give weight to Him, to ascribe importance to Him, and so our lives ought to evoke doxologies to God. People should look at us as individuals and as a church and eventually break out in the doxology.  “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
I want to take you back to that passage in 2 Cor 5:15 and look at the preceding verse.

“For the love of Christ controls us.” The word “controls” means arrests. Have you been arrested by the love of Christ? Have you been apprehended by a love so great that He died to pay the price of your sins. It was His death that reversed God's decision against you! Let that sink in and allow yourself to be arrested by His love.

Because when you are truly arrested by His love, you will no longer desire to live for yourself, but rather your desire will be to live for Him!

Paul goes on to say, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live (those who have come to the light) might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.”

We are salt and light because we have been arrested, apprehended,  by the love of Jesus and have made Him and His Word our top priority. Now, let's let each other, let's let Menasha, let's let the world know that we have comprehended being apprehended as we live for Him and let our good works shine before men.  As St Francis of Assissi aptly said,  “Preach the Gospel often and when necessary, use words.”