Last Sunday we began a new Sunday School year with a church-wide program thematically linked to the Sermon on the Mount. As part of the ‘rally’ we read in Matthew 5:14 where Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” I was asked if this is the only statement of identification in the Sermon on the Mount, and I would say – yes. It is the only identifying statement in Matthew about the disciples (although Jesus does have a few “you are” statement specifically addressed to Peter) and perhaps all of the synoptic gospels (albeit that Luke records that Jesus said regarding the twelve that “you are my witnesses….”). It is fascinating that Jesus, early in his earthly ministry, likens us to light.
Light is the first of God’s creative order. Darkness and chaos covered the earth and God calls forth light to alleviate it. The earth was void of life and God calls forth light to sustain it. The earth was in disorder and God calls forth light to order it. We are the light of the world. We are now God’s instrument to alleviate darkness, sustain life and establish order. What an awesome responsibility.
Living in a world of incandescent light dulls us to the great calling we have received. We are virtually immune to darkness. Gone are the days of purchasing oil and trimming wicks; instead we flick a switch (or more than one) and are instantly flooded with light. We are knocked into a tailspin if a bulb goes out, not to mention the utter inconvenience of a power outage. In fact, we have a pantry light that blew at least two months ago that I’ve yet to change that causes me to ‘harrumph’ every time I pull its string. We no longer claim responsibility for casting out darkness.
Living in a world of grocery stores also dulls us to this great calling. The hours of sunlight no longer dictate our schedules. We are often oblivious of the life-giving processes light accomplishes without our attention or influence. Winter frosts melt into the soils, softening it to accept the spring seeds; spring rains are evaporated so that the seedlings sprout; photosynthesis feeds the plants throughout the summer months and produces crops at harvest. The light is instrumental in plant life and plants are instrumental in our lives. Yet, daylight savings time comes around and we hem and haw about the inconveniences of adjusting our schedules by 60 minutes. We no longer appreciate the life that light brings to all creation.
We mustn’t abdicate our title – we are the light of the world. We have been created and called by God to function in our environment in similar ways to the light called forth at the start of God’s creation. We are to overwhelm the darkness. We are to foster life. We are to provide order. We are to be light. Now excuse me – I have a bulb to change.