The first time the universe heard the uttered words of God, it was not His voice calling out for there to be joy, peace, or even love. The voice of the Sovereign, the Divine, gloriously uttered these words first:
Let there be light! (Genesis 1:3)
God always begins by turning the lights on. Life requires light. Faith requires light.
Why? Because we live in dark times. Some argue that we live in the darkest hour— darkened by sin, immorality, moral relativism, spiritual apathy, cultural decadence and a host of other ills.
In the midst of darkness, a prophetic, everlasting truth is revealed in words spoken by our Savior:
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither 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. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV)
Who You Are
In the Old Testament, God revealed who He was. Jacob asked His name. Moses asked His name. He declared Himself to be Yahweh, the I Am.
But in the New Testament, through grace, God reveals who we are in Him.
As the body of Christ, who are we? This query goes way beyond addressing only the issue of identity. Are we just another institution in society? Are we another religious faith narrative competing in the marketplace of ideas? Are we feel-good machinery for the spiritually impaired? Are we an antiquated conduit for a set of irrelevant values no longer applicable in the world of Facebook, iPads, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube?
How this generation responds will determine whether or not, in our time, light will overcome darkness.
God’s Word already declares what He intends His bride to be, and we must embrace the following with clarity, conviction and courage:
- We are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)
- We are a city on a hill. (Matthew 5:14)
- We are people of the word. (1 Kings 8:56)
- We are salt and light. (Matthew 5:13-16)
- We are disciples, witnesses, and Christ followers. (Matthew 28:16-20)
- We are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. (Ephesians 4:11)
- We are the redeemed of the Lord. (Psalm 107:2)
- We are the sheep of His pasture. (Psalm 100:3)
- We are forgiven, free and favored. (Luke 23:24)
- We are called and chosen. (1 Peter 2:9)
- We are warriors and worshippers. (Psalm 144:1)
- We are world changers and history makers. (Mark 16:15)
- We are the Church of Jesus Christ, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against us! (Matthew 16:18)
We are not defeated. We are not victims. We are not forsaken or abandoned. We are not condemned, broken or helpless. We are the light of the world, and in this season we will shine brighter than ever before!
Piercing Your Darkness
Here’s a prophetic supposition: many of you have experienced dark times recently. Darkness fell upon your faith, your mind, your heart, your integrity, your health, your finances, your family. Even today, you confronted darkness.
Here’s a word for you as you read this article:
Rise up and shine, for your light has come. The shining-greatness of the Lord has risen upon you. For see, darkness will cover the earth. Much darkness will cover the people. But the Lord will rise upon you, and His shining-greatness will be seen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1, 2 – NLV)
Your breakthrough is not coming; it has come. It’s here! The shining greatness of the Lord’s glory has risen upon you. It has covered and overtaken you!
Everyone will see God’s light and glory upon you, whether they like it or not! Everyone—friend and foe, lover and hater. Everyone!
Do you understand what God just said?
Your season of darkness is over. Where people once saw pain in your life, they will now see praise. Where they saw failure, they will see favor. Where they saw hurt, they will see healing.
But it’s your job to get up. Rise up and shine! When you understand that you are light because of who you are in Christ and who Christ is in you, then you understand the next part of the Matthew 5 passage: a city on a hill cannot be hidden! (see Matthew 5:14)
Get up and shine, not for people to see you, but so they can see what God is doing in you and, more importantly, who He is in you. Arise and shine for a city on a hill cannot be hidden!
Removing the Obstacles
Neither do people light a lamp and hide it under a bowl. (Matthew 5:15)
Our challenge is to remove the bowls of apathy, complacency and acquiescence, and to once again lay claim to the stand of righteousness so we may shine before all men.
Why? Because today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity. Because spiritual stagnation leads to spiritual atrophy.
What is the name of your bowl? What is the name of the obstacle impeding your light from shining? Is it shame, hidden sin, remorse, or bitterness? Is it what others say about you—in other words, is your light under the bowl of judgment and criticism?
Jesus said that you are light, that you cannot be hidden; therefore, it makes no sense to place your light under a bowl, which represents a limitation on your designation. It’s time to remove the bowl.
Where Do You Stand?
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. (Matthew 5:15)
Here’s the problem: we have many lights, but few stands. If you lack a platform—a stand for the light—it becomes difficult for the light to shine. The stand matters! Be light by where you stand!
Stop placing your light on the floor and place it on a stand. Your family needs to see you shine. Your workplace needs to see you shine. Your neighbors need to see you shine. This world needs to see you shine!
The Bible says that the lamp on a stand gives light to everyone—not just some, but everyone in the house.
This is the season of everyone in the house! Everyone in the house will see the light! Everyone in the house will be saved! God wants to bring a message through which you and your entire household will be saved! (see Acts 11:14)
Be Light by What You Do!
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
Jesus changed the world because of who He was, what He said and what He did—His character, His rhetoric and His actions.
When asked by a secular reporter, “What do Christians do besides go to church on Sunday?,” I responded with the following:
- We love.
- We forgive.
- We turn the other cheek.
- We bless our enemies.
- We walk in integrity.
- We live abundantly.
- We quench thirst.
- We clothe the naked.
- We feed the hungry.
- We welcome the stranger.
- We preach in and out of season.
- We worship in spirit and truth.
- We shine the light of Christ.
- We do justice.
- We love mercy.
- We walk humbly before God.
- We change the world.
This is our identity, Church. Let’s be light!
Points for Application
- Ask the Lord to release fresh encouragement into His body to be who He has called us to be and not to be overwhelmed by darkness.
- Ask Him to reveal what your “stand” is—where is He asking you to shine your light?
- Repent of apathy or compromise, for fearing man more than God; ask the Holy Spirit to infuse you with new boldness.
- Find someone who has been discouraged or walking in a difficult season and speak hope into their life.