“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 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 5:13-16
What Christ does here is amazing. He who called himself the Light of the World (John 8:12) assigns to us the same name! What is he saying? He is telling us that our mission here is to reflect his light wherever darkness exists.
Now think about this. There is never a day that you are not in contact with darkness in some form. Maybe it is the darkness of your child’s rebellion. Maybe it is the darkness of a community injustice. Maybe it is the darkness of the materialism all around you, or your marital difficulties, or the solitude and alienation of someone in your neighborhood. Maybe it is the darkness of the whininess and self-focus that complicates the relationships around you. Maybe it is the darkness of the falsehoods that grip the culture you live in. Somehow, some way, at street level, you are in contact with darkness every day.
How are you called to respond? You must not be content with avoiding the darkness. You must not be content with surviving the darkness. You are called to shine light into the darkness. Jesus is essentially saying, “You have been lit by the light of my grace and truth. Now go shine!” The passage calls us to consider how nonsensical it would be to light a lamp and then cover it. Truly, to have a light, yet obscure it so it lights nothing, simply makes no sense.
That darkness is all around us, everywhere we go. Yet to each of these places we carry with us the light of transforming grace. That which has been so tragically darkened by sin can be illuminated by the Light of the World who dwells within us. Because of this, I can live excited by my new-found ministry potential. I can live looking for opportunities to shine, that I might be part of what God is doing in the places where he has put me. I can begin to be motivated by the high calling I have been given. I can be justifiably amazed that God would choose me to be part of the most important work in the universe—the redemption of the lost.
How could it be that God would place his name on me? How could it be that he would pick me up in his hands and use me as a tool of renewal, restoration, and redemption? No matter how much worldly success I achieve, no matter how much wealth I acquire, no matter how much honor in the eyes of others I am given, and no matter how many wonderful things I experience, there is nothing that could ever compete or compare with the surpassing honor of knowing God and being chosen to be part of what he is doing on earth.
from Broken-Down House by Paul David Tripp