'As long as I am in the world; I am the light of the world.
From a purely Christian point of view, the Creator God sent His Holy Spirit to invest the virgin, Mary, with a Son, His Son, so that He might grow to become the Messiah, or Savior, not for Israel alone, but for the whole world ( John 3:16 ). On the other hand, though, there are those ( for lack of a better term, maybe, we'll call them 'Pagans' ) who choose, not necessarily to refute or refuse the principles of life laid out for us in Scripture, but to acknowledge the Divine Presence in other religions of the world, even in those places, or circumstances, where no particular religion is claimed, or followed. What are we, as Christians, to do with those who do not follow our religion; should we, as in times past ( still do today ) strive to 'evangelize' them, bringing them around to our way of thinking, as though Christianity is the only religion that has the Truth?
Jesus told His disciples they were the light of the world ( Matthew 5:14 ): this is a good example of one of the many universal statement in the Scriptures! Looking at both the historical & covenant context of such a bold statement, one may note that Jesus spoke these words to His followers in the first century, in opposition to the Jews of the day, who thought the nation of Israel, or the Jews, was the Light of the World. Others might go so far to state that Jesus' words apply only to those who follow the religion based on the Name most closely associated with Him, the name 'Christ'. But what if 'Christ' is NOT a name; what if it's a title, like, 'THE Pharaoh', THE Caesar?!
According to the Merriam-Webster ( online ) dictionary, the title simply means 'messiah'.it functions basically as the Greek version of the Hebrew term, though in actuality, it means so much more! The Greek 'Christos', in biblical usage, means 'anointed' & is closely related to the word 'chrism'. Semantically speaking then, it would be more correct to use the term, 'the Christ' in reference to Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. In the same Spirit then, so to speak; would it not be acceptable to refer to those who follow in the footsteps of Jesus by the same title? In actuality, we are! As Christians, we are 'little Christs'. Traditionally, this title was assigned to the followers of Jesus as a derogatory term, by His detractors. In this sense then, one might say that it's only those who follow Jesus that can truly bear this title with honor!
The truth of the matter is, only those who follow in the footsteps of Jesus can bear this Name, or Title with honor! What is it then to follow in the footsteps of Jesus? Is it only those who adhere to the religion named after His exalted Title that can be called 'the Christ', or 'little Christs'? It must be noted here, that we are 'little Christs', little Messiahs', if you will, for we are NOT the Creator God, we are simply of the same Essence, of the same Being. We all have one Father ( for lack of a better term? )! Being of One Essence ( though all do not realize, or acknowledge it ), we all have the potential to be 'little Christs', to awaken the 'Chrism', but sadly, some choose not to & these go their own way, selfishly acting according to only their own interests, while yet others look outside themselves for some future salvation!
To follow in the footsteps of Jesus, it might be argued, is to do what He did, which was to exercise judgement. His judgement came as a two-edged sword though; it fell, ultimately, on His covenant people, when in AD70, the Romans bore the sword in the destruction of Jerusalem & the Temple, for all intents & purposes, destroying the Jewish economy. Secondly, it served to separate the wheat from the chaff, biblically speaking, effectively revealing the Remnant, or those who had been Chosen, out of Israel of Old, to represent True Israel. This was the Purpose of His Parousia, in celebration of which we now observe what may be the most Holy of days, Christmas.
Christmas, however, is not just for Christians, although it might be noted here, that 'everybody is a 'Christian' on Christmas'! Pagans of all shapes & sizes celebrated the day, or season we call 'Christmas' long before we did! The Coming of the Light, AKA the Winter Solstice-the day when the light begins to linger longer, has been celebrated by Pagans from time immemorial! Constantine, if memory serves, simply renamed & restructured these old traditions when he Christianized the Roman Empire.
As Christians, we believe that we ( alone ) have that True Light of the World, although some Christians, like the Jews & Muslims, are still waiting for that Light to be revealed from above! Almost every religion around the world, to whatever extent, believes theirs is the true religion, the True Light; are they wrong, while we're right? Or do WE have it all backwards & THEY'RE right, while WE are the ones who're wrong? Not saying that we ARE the ones who're wrong, but then again, we haven't got all our ducks in a row, either. It has been said there is truth in every religion; this is verifiable, not because all religions are ultimately the same ( they're not ), but because while some individual adherents to those religions choose to adhere to that religion, for religions sake, others choose to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, judging, as He did, by spreading Love rather than Hate, Freedom rather than Fear. They shine their Light in the midst of a dark & dreary world, because, though they may not realize or acknowledge it as such; they ARE the Light of the World!
Jesus, as the Messiah of Israel, was the Christ ( some would put the emphasis on 'THE', as in the only One )! However, as we are ( to be ) to the world as Jesus was to Israel ( He being our Great Example ), we, as Christians, should strive to shine our Light into every dark corner, as He did, bringing forth those treasures hidden ( struggling ) in the darkness, that they too, may realize their Purpose. It is not only as a Christian, religiously speaking, that one may be a follower of the Divine Principle that Jesus followed; Pagans too, though they may not acknowledge Him that we acknowledge as 'the Christian God, yet still follow that Divine Principle, shining their Light into dark places & bringing into the Light treasures previously hidden. We are not alone in this world & no man, or religion, is an Island!
In this Christmas season, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus as the Coming of the Light: Pagans celebrate the Winter Solstice as the coming of the light; either way, whether it's the Sun or the Son, it's simply a religious holyday, or holiday! From the original Purpose, we have come a long way ( or should that be, 'fallen a long way?' ) what with the commercialization ( business ) of the holyday. Some have selfishly & greedily chosen 'the bottom line' as their messiah, while others have chosen to save themselves & the world be BEING the Light, by loving their neighbor as themselves, showing them that indeed, THEY are Light, if only they would choose to shine!
Charles Haddon Shank