Light Of The World
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 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. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Mat 5:14-16)
Light dispels darkness. Or, more accurately, darkness is the absence of light. We only see where there is light to see. Where darkness prevails the things that are done are hidden for lack of light to see. And so it is in this world. Mankind loves the light when they are lost and seeking a way. Mankind hates the light when it exposes the evil that they have done. They would rather wander in darkness, not finding the way, than to have their evil exposed by the light. You are the light of the world, Jesus said. You are that light shining into the darkness of the world gives the lost a way to see. And, you are also that light that exposes the evil of the world.
The world, the game, the system, the beast - whatever you want to call it - seeks its own glory. It seeks survival and pleasure and honor of itself and in seeking those things will sacrifice or destroy whatever stands in the way. It's, "Me first, you second." And thus in the attempt to survive, it also destroys leaving pain and suffering in its wake. In this world game there must be winners and losers and we are taught to always be the winner. Unfortunately for the world and its games when the losers far outnumber the winners chaos ensues. When it reaches the point that all the wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of a few, there are not enough potential losers left for the winners to be winners. The losers revolt and overthrow the winners. For that reason, even the world seeks some recompense, some relief from the evil that it creates. They will not give up the game, however. They simply want the game to work better.
The world will tolerate religion to the extent that religion allows the game to continue. If religion can teach some moral restraint and compassion to the winners, or give the losers some comfort and hope for a better world so that they don't revolt, then religion is seen as useful. The world wants religion to relive the pain and suffering the game of the world creates for one reason only: so that the game will continue. When Christians talk about doing good deeds, and getting to heaven, and being a responsible member of society, and treating each other with love and kindness, the world will not object to that. None of that threatens the game, unless it "goes too far" of course. If preaching these things causes people to reject the world and put God first, then the world gets upset. When we reject the world, the game and its system, no longer can the world system control us. If too many reject the world that would wreck the game for everybody.
So, when Jesus says, "You are the light of the world" it is likely to be misinterpreted and preached as if Christians are the ones who will make the world a better place. We are the ones who are supposed to lead the way in love and kindness and compassion. We are the ones who are supposed to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and heal the sick. The world will approve of that because it brings some relief from the evil the world creates. But, read the whole passage I quoted. We are the light of the world for one reason only: To Glorify God. When we do good works it is not done to get honor for ourselves. It is not to make the world a better place. It is to show the love, the compassion, of God to the world so that the world will be shown the nature of God. And it will show the world for what it is. God didn't create the problem and to say that God is only useful when He solves the world's evil is to treat God as man's servant. It is really the other way around, of course. God created man to serve God's purposes.
Bringing light into the world goes beyond bringing relief to the suffering. It is not the way Christians are to help make the world a better place. To bring light to the world means to expose the evil of the world for what it is. It means that injustice is brought to light. It means corruption is exposed. By our witness we make the lies of Satan manifest for what they really are. Again - we don't bring light into the world to make the game work better. We don't bring light into the world to fix the game. As Zeph said recently, we are here to wreck the game. We are here to show to all of eternity that the world created by the influence of Satan is as evil as God said it would be.
When we face trials and suffering and humiliation at the hands of the world, it isn't because God wants us to suffer. He is not a cruel tyrant that demands we prove we can take it. He asks that we do His will. He asks that we be the light that is the reflection of His glory and that in and through us He shows the lies of Satan and the Truth of His Word. Though the world has rebelled against God and has gone astray, He can redeem it. Though we are but weak vessels, His grace working in us is sufficient to overcome the world. The light that is in us is the light of His presence. When that light of His presence shines through us, His glory shines into the world and dispels the darkness.
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." (Mat 5:10-12)
Does this make sense now? Yes we are put down, belittled, shoved aside and abused. What did you expect? If you have the light of God in you the world will hate you. But, this is the opportunity we have to serve the will of God. We can testify to the truth, we can reveal the corruption we encountered; we can be the light into the world because we have seen the world for what it is. All that we have to do is stand up, speak out, and prophecy to the truth. It does no good to hide.