You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Please do not take these words out of the context in which they were written, to whom or when they were spoken!
When Jesus spoke these words, according to Matthew's Gospel, or his relation of the Good News of Jesus the Christ, He was near the beginning of what is called 'The Sermon on the Mount'. In this sermon, Jesus told those gathered basically what His followers would look like and what they would do. Because of the Light that would burn within them, they would be lights themselves, to brighten every dark place, and to bring to light the hidden things of darkness.
To begin with; we should examine the historical and grammatical context of the phrase in question.
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying,
I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.
Although doubtless, Jesus ( God ) is the Light, not just of the World, but of the Universe; the historical and grammatical context of Jesus' words above demand that 'the world' of which He spoke was 'the world' which He specifically came to save, the covenant world of His people Israel. He even said in another place, 'I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel'. Now, don't get me wrong; this is referring, in the covenantal context, to the 'Israel of God' that the apostle Paul mentions in Galatians 6:16, but when read according to 'audience relevance', or in historical context, you may see that this 'world' was the same 'world' that God so loved, in the oft-quoted John 3:16, and the subsequent 'world' that He came to save, and not to condemn!
This point, that Jesus came to save His covenant people, is often missed by some who claim that Jesus was the Messiah, or Savior, only of the physical seed of Abraham, or Israel ( Jacob ). At another point of the spectrum are those who claim that all mankind comprises the 'world' which Jesus came to save. Several obvious problems arise here, though, in a 'universalistic view such as this; it makes God ( Jesus ) a failure, for there have obviously been some who have died in their sins ( Hitler, for example ). Either that, or we have utter chaos, every man doing what is right in his own eyes, because they are all 'saved' and 'on their way to heaven'! Well, enough of that, 'we've been there, done that' ( in previous articles )!
Shining the Light
The full ramifications of Christ in us are often missed by modern Christianity, indeed Christianity in general throughout the ages, though the lack of understanding has been heightened somewhat in modern times. We should understand that, since the Godhead has taken up residence within us ( John 14:23 ), although we do not become God, we are the Temple of God, and with His Power within us, are able to shine His Light into the darkest corners, and bring the Love of Jesus ( God ) into the dingiest areas of this world, which is His.
Jesus came to 'save His people from their sins' ( Matthew 1:21 ), and as we saw above; He later on said 'I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel'. How do we reconcile these statements with passages like John 3:16; are we not part of 'the world' that He came to save?
A covenantal understanding of this, and other like passages should reveal to us that we who partake of the Faith of Christ, those who have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit ( God ) ARE the 'Israel of God'! The apostle Paul wrote, in his letter to the Church ( Body of Christ ) in Rome ( Romans 9:6-9 ), 'But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they [ are ] not all Israel who [ are ] of Israel, nor [ are they ] all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, In Isaac your seed shall be called. That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. For this [ is ] the word of promise: At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.' We should understand that, as Paul also wrote, 'those who are of faith are sons of Abraham' ( Galatians 3:7 ); so we, as part of the Body of Christ, and of His Faith, are possessors of the blessings of the Covenant!
As we saw above, and can plainly see all around us every day, we ( individually ) are NOT perfect; the light that we shine pales in comparison to the Light that Jesus shone in His 'world'! As the corporate and covenant Body of Christ, however, we can shine the full strength of that Light into a dark and dreary world! Jesus said, in the Gospel according to John ( 14:12 ), 'Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater [ works ] than these he will do, because I go to My Father'. This seems impossible, and almost laughable, and as individuals, it IS impossible, but as the corporate, covenanted Body of Christ, with the Power of God in His New Temple, it is more than possible, it is REALITY! Every day, in some small and seemingly insignificant way, small miracles take place all over this world of His! Many or most of these miracles escape the notice of the mainstream media, and thus are relegated to their own 'world', but whether we notice them or not, believe it or not, they do happen, for this IS our Father's world; 'resistance is futile, you will be assimilated'!
In conclusion then, though we may not see the effect that we have, though it seems that the Light we are shining is not doing much to lighten even our own sometimes dark and dreary path; let us always remember that we ARE the light of the world, and we DO have the Power of the True Light ( and Creator ) of the World within us!
As we go forth into our 'world' then, whether it be in the workplace or wherever the Spirit leads us, we can have the utmost confidence that the 'seeds' we plant WILL have their effect, and the Light we shine WILL lighten the darkest pathway; We have His word on it!
Charles Haddon Shank