Be a Light in 2024
“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.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
These words of Jesus, preached during the Sermon on the Mount, have become commonly recited in the Christian tradition. I would like to propose that they should shock and unsettle us.
Why? Because elsewhere, Jesus declares himself to be the light of the world. “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).
So, are we and Jesus both the light of the world? That should be an uncomfortable identity; it’s not a comparison or parallel we should accept casually.
In this moment, Jesus is placing his name on his followers and describing God’s plan for human redemption. The Lord will make the light of his presence, power, grace, and wisdom visible through his disciples that he sends out to be light in a dark world.
I like to say it this way: our God of light makes his invisible light visible by sending his children of light to reflect that light to people who need light.
This is not just a commission for pastors of outreach, parachurch ministry leaders, college campus workers, or full-time foreign missionaries. This is the life calling for everyone who calls Jesus Lord and Savior.
No matter who you are. No matter how old or young you are. No matter what your job description is.
All of us who have been “delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13) are called to be lights in this dark world, proclaiming the Good News of the One who is the Light of the world.
Sounds inspirational, right? Well, here’s the problem. The way most of us as Christians define ministry allows us to evade this calling to be light.
I said it a few paragraphs above: “You are the light of the world” is not just a commission for pastors of outreach, parachurch ministry leaders, college campus workers, or full-time foreign missionaries.
But many of us would be relieved if God designed for evangelism and ministry to be the sole responsibility of full-time paid professionals. After all, they have the education, the time, and experience to do it best, right?
Be encouraged (and challenged) by this principle embedded throughout the narrative of biblical redemption: God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things in the lives of others.
In fact, I’ll take it even further. God uses inexperienced, unqualified people to build his eternal Kingdom.
What mission board, ministry, or local church would ever hire the people God used in Scripture for their newest leadership position? Would you ever think Moses, Gideon, David, or Peter was a good candidate?
If you’re going to make a New Year’s resolution, let it be this. Commit to seeking opportunities to be a light to those living in darkness. Do not place that responsibility on the full-time leaders of the church.
This is your mission in life. God has uniquely placed you in the exact situations, locations, and relationships to make the Light of the world visible and concrete.
You are the look of Christ’s face. You are the tone of his voice. You are the touch of his hands. You are the physical representation of his light in a dark world.
How bright will you shine this year?
“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).
Paul David Tripp
1. When you think of a person who represents Jesus in a dark world, has that person you imagined ever been you? If not, why not? Why is it potentially uncomfortable for you to see yourself as God’s plan for the redemption of other people? Why is God’s call to be a light to the world a call for every believer in Jesus, not just the professionals?
2. How would you define the word “ministry”? What do you typically think of when you hear that word? Why do you think the term “ministry” is usually associated strictly with full-time pastors, missionaries, or para-church ministers?
3. What first comes to your mind when you hear the word “evangelism”? Why do you think the word “evangelism” carries so much baggage with it? Would you ever consider yourself a person who God could use to bring others into a relationship with Jesus?
4. Take a moment and think through a short list of people in your life who aren’t Christians. How might God specifically use you in those people’s lives because of the unique relationship you have with each of them? In what ways can you be praying for those people to come to know the Lord? How might God use you to be an answer to your own prayers? In what specific ways can you commit to seeking opportunities to be a light to those people on your list who are currently living in darkness?