14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15Neither 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.16In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
What does it mean to be the ‘light of the world”?
A light allows us to see, it reveals the truths which lie around us as we walk through life. If we attempt to walk through an unfamiliar place in complete darkness we are sure to scrape our shins, stumble over an unseen object and possibly even fall off a cliff to our death below. We learn to trust our eyes to guide us as we walk through new areas, but our eyes require a light source to be able to see. In these verses, Jesus uses this depiction of physical light being necessary for sight as a metaphor for the spiritual reality. He is pointing to the fact that the world is shrouded in spiritual darkness because of sin causing separation from God. In the same way that we need a physical light source to navigate this earth, we must have a spiritual light source to guide our spiritual existence. In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus is the spiritual light source that reveals all truth and makes a way for us to see and know God. He came into the darkness of the world to bring light and life to all people. Those who respond to His light by submitting themselves to be bondservants of His are given life. They are then sent out into the world with His light and therefore become the very light of the world.
What is this spiritual “light”?
In essence, the spiritual light is Christ Himself. How He shines out through us is manifested in various ways. In Ephesians 2:8-10 we see a brief discourse which reveals that as we have been saved (made the light of Christ) by grace through faith so we must work out our salvation (our lightness) by doing the good works prepared for us by God. Another way that Christ is shone brightly is by righteousness. Paul shares in Philippians 3 how this actually works out. Righteousness is not a set of actions to be done or rules to be followed to appear a certain way but a state of being approved and cleansed by Christ and thereby being made right with God. This cannot happen in any way apart from faith in Christ and surrendering all in complete reliance on Him.
How do you "let your light shine"?
Let us think about lights in the physical world. Where are they usually placed? We have light poles, ceiling lights, bedside lamps, reading lights, head lamps, flashlights, vehicle headlights… etc. There are a few commonalities about the placement of these various light sources. They all shed light on something, reveal something that was previously covered, and are terribly conspicuous. Every time you walk into a room with a light switched on it is plain to see what the contents of the room are, the fact that light is shining, and the source of said light. Following Jesus’ corollary, we can understand how we should let our light shine. Our life should manifest the spiritual light of Christ within us clear and bright. When people come into our space they should immediately be aware of the light of Christ and its source (you). Not only that, but the light of Christ also reveals the sinfulness, evils, and wrongs that are everywhere around it. In order to let your light shine it is imperative to be overflowing with joy in the Lord and confident in the gospel, boldly living out the life God had prepared for you. Your life in Christ should be conspicuous, not hidden, revelatory, not concealing sin, and actively shining, not switched off or covered.
Go shine :)