A Voice in the
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a grain measure, but on a lampstand, and it shines for all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." (Mt5:14-16)
You drive along in traffic, and suddenly a little 'flash' catches your eye. You look to see what it was, and where it came from... come to discover another vehicle has dangling from its rear-view mirror an assortment of glass, beads and crystals, which, as the sun landed on them as they were swaying with the movement of the vehicle, they 'sparkled' the sun's light as they refracted light of various colors for all to see. New Age spirituality is into candles and light-refracting crystals. Many believe there is 'power' in those crystals.
When I was a kid, in central N.Dakota where we lived, in catholic country, it seemed as if everybody had little statues on their dash boards. I don't know, to whom... Mary and various 'saints'. When one observes the symbols of catholicism, one sees various representations of their roots in Babylon's sun-worship (similar to today's Illuminati and Freemasonry's worship of the sun): art and carvings of the brilliant sun with its 'face', the eucharist host with its 'flames', their logos with a broken cross engulfed by the sun, Renaissance art depicting the radiance of the sun around the heads of the saints, or halos hovering overhead.
When Jesus was speaking to Believers, saying "you are the light of the world", was He speaking of this pagan symbolism? Was He declaring that we worship the sun as Freemasonry and catholicism do, or the moon as Islam does? Does the N.T. teach us to have candle-lighting rituals, to hold sunrise worship services? Or are we commanded to paste on 'smiles' to our faces so as to -appear- 'bright' and of continually 'radiant' countenances? Somewhat like when those deeply into the religious game of christendom are headed to church, they get all spiffed up, don an air of piety, exhort the children to "put on your smiles!", where just a few minutes ago they had all been fighting and yelling at each other; and then -at- 'church' the worship leader does some cheer-leading, pumping people up to -SMILE- as we all (happily) sing this next song, and go around shaking neighbors' hands and greeting them with a -smiley- "Howdy do!" If a person is not smiling, or (Heaven-forbid!) exhibiting a slight frown (Gasp!), or even a 'stern' countenance (Shudder!), are they terribly backslidden and living in sin? After all, to a Christian, everything is "Praise the Lord!"; and "P-T-L" automatically also assumes a Cheshire-cat-like ear-to-ear grin!
When the Christian's "light" is seen, what is manifest? Following in the context that Jesus was teaching: when we let our light shine, what the world sees is "good works". (vs16b)
But does not Paul teach that salvation is "by grace, through faith...not of ourselves...NOT OF WORKS" (Eph2:8-9) ?
Oh...but...Jesus is not talking about Salvation. He is not talking about -how- to be 'saved'. This is the so-called "Sermon on the Mount", and a great crowd has gathered around; but to whom is Jesus talking? It says that "His disciples came to Him. And He opened His mouth and taught -them-" (vs1-2) "Them" == the "disciples" who had just come next to Him. Disciples: ones who were already Jesus' followers.
There is a serious malady in christendom today that teaches grace minus mercy, mercy minus repentance; and their counterpart: salvation minus a changed life. Today's "salvation" (whatever that might possibly mean to them, when it is minus repentance and God's saving grace!) seems to consist of an overwhelming 'glow' of something supernatural, where a person suddenly finds themself in a state of ecstasy, where they "feel" happy and joyous. But the accompanying follow-after doctrine exhorts them the same way President Bush did to America after 9/11: Continue living JUST LIKE YOU WERE DOING...you DON'T need to CHANGE A THING! ...because: God accepts you "just as you are". Thus, christendom is full of 'happy' people, with smiles on their faces, yet living in the swill gutter of sin!
But Jesus teaches the light of "good works". If a person continues in what Paul proclaims: SALVATION is "not of works"; but when a person has been saved, they become a "new creation" in Christ (2Co5:17) "UNTO GOOD WORKS" (Eph2:10) In other words, a person cannot be saved by doing works; but once a person has been saved, they will yield "fruits worthy of repentance" (Mt3:8) Christian "works" is the "fruit" by which the tree is known. (Mt7:16,20)
Furthermore, if we can back up just a bit in the passage: in what sort of context might the world be seeing these good works? Is the Christian life the proverbial "bed-of-roses" where everything is la-dee-dah, lollipops and sunshine?
"Blessed are they who have been persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when they shall revile and persecute you, and shall say every evil word against you falsely because of Me. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for in this manner they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (vs10-12)
Paul and Silas had been beaten and wrongfully imprisoned for casting the demon out of the young girl, and what the prisoners observed was a couple of Christians "singing songs" in the midst of their hurting backs. (Ac16:25) I don't suspect they were grinning ear-to-ear as they were beaten and hauled into jail!
Another quality of the Believer in that same context is as "salt": "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." (vs13)
The Christian life is not for the purpose, necessarily, "to be seen by men" (Mt23:5), for it to be announced, "look at his good works"; but when salt is in the food, the "good flavor" is tasted by the palate. The person eats the 'food', not necessarily thinking to themself "how good the -salt- tastes"; nevertheless, if the salt wasn't in the food, the person would notice how 'bland' it was. There are many who concern themselves with "appearances"; look at what wonderful salt I am!; not actually being 'in' the food, not being of any eternal use to God's Kingdom; whilst leaving the kettle full of rottenness.
Salt gives food flavor. But salt also brings a "sting" to wounds. Where there is sin, the Christian is in stark contrast to that sin. The Christian often doesn't even need to utter a word of condemnation; the mere fact that he does not participate speaks loud and clear. Quite often, when a person of the world comes into the vicinity of a Believer, even though not-a-word may be spoken, the person of the world will begin to stare at and analyze the Believer, observing the witness of the Holy Spirit in the Believer's mere 'presence'. Just as Believers witness God's Holy Spirit in other Believers (Rom8:16); so, too, the world can often witness the Holy Spirit in a Believer, being in stark contrast to their own spirit of darkness (Eph5:11); when nary a single word was spoken. That 'salt' either providing a pleasant flavor, or contrariwise, an unspoken condemnation to the sinful conscience.
Back in the 70s there was this stupid song, "It only takes a spark to get a fire going..." Well, if a person is in a black coal mine, underground, at night...all it takes to provide light by which to see is the merest faint glimmer of a tiny candle or lit match. It doesn't have to be a bon fire or a halogen lamp...to contrast the vast darkness, just a tiny glimmer...and the darkness goes fleeing away into the corners.
When a Believer faces adversity or persecution, what does the world see? A resoluteness and unwavering peace, being in God's presence. The sanhedrin observed that the disciples "were with Jesus" (Ac4:13) When the world tries to divert the Believer away from God's Word, and find their efforts unsuccessful, that salt 'rubs' in the sinful wounds of their evil conscience. This is true of the world as well as those pretending to be "christian", but are not; when the True Believer stands firm on God's Word, the pretenders become uncomfortable and turn the blame, calling the -True- Believer "judgmental". That's the 'salt' at work!
On the other hand, if the Believer decides to take the easy way out, and go-with-the-flow, don't stir up waves...that salt has lost its flavor. And what did Jesus say about such an one? "It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." (vs13b) If good works reveal a Believer and shines light, what does tasteless salt reveal? One who has put his hand to the plow and looked back! Jesus said that such a person is not "fit for the kingdom of God" (Lk9:62)
Yes...the Christian -is- 'different' from the world! By definition! If one is claiming to be "Christian", but for all appearances and fruits is a child of darkness, one seriously questions whether there is any light in them! Is there any salt to them? "If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Mt6:23)
A Christian's deeds are righteous...the world's are wickedness. The Christian walks as a "[child] of light" (Eph5:8)...the world "remains in darkness" (Jn12:46) and "lies in wickedness" (1Jn5:19) One does not entice the world to God's light by giving them more of their own darkness, nor does a Believer prove his Godliness by living like the world.
The world has plenty of 'light shows' and entertainment that 'smiles' at them, offering false happiness, false hope, and eternal judgment; they don't need more 'smiling-faces' from those pretending to belong to God. What the world needs to see is Christians who are FOR REAL, who are GENUINE...to-the-core...who, when the world is next to them, there is no question to -whom- they belong. That there is NO QUESTION that they are NOT OF THIS WORLD (Jn18:36), as Jesus said to Pilate...
but that their...
Related topic: Salt & Light