It’s been said by many wise fathers to their kids that nothing good happens after midnight. The dark is when people get in trouble; it’s when we tend to lose our inhibitions and caution. That’s because we, as humans, were made to live in the light.
If you’ve ever worked the night shift, you know how difficult it is to adjust your internal clock; you have to relearn how to live and even when you do, everything seems opposite of what it should be. That’s because you are going against the natural inclination in you to live and move and work in the light.
Jesus told His followers, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), and of course, He was. But why did He choose the light to compare Himself to? A lot of reasons, but maybe the most important involves the purpose of light.
In that day and time, light wasn’t meant to decorate a house; no one had a lamp sitting around because it looked pretty. Light was about utility and work; it existed in a limited supply and it was important that a person made the most of the time they had while the light was still shining.
That’s because in the light, we can truly see, and can know the true nature of what’s before us.
When a lamp is lit in a darkened room, there is immediate clarity there. Without the light, there is mystery, apprehension, and fear; you can’t truly identify where or what anything is. But with light comes revelation—the light reveals the true nature of what is and what is not. It shows you that a chair is not a bed and the monster knocking on the window is really just the rain.
Light reveals. It shows us the truth about what otherwise exists in darkness. That’s exactly what Jesus did.
Jesus exposed a lot of things that had been in the dark for a long time. He shined the light on the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of the day. He refused to accept half-hearted devotion to becoming a true follower of God. He called sin “sin” and He extended love and truth with His whole self.
But Jesus not only called Himself the light of the world; He passed the responsibility of lighting the world to His followers:
“You are the light of the world. A town built 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 others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).
Like Him, His followers are meant to light the world and to light it brightly. The way weary travelers look with hope to the bright and warm city on the hill, so should the world look to Christians as those who tell the truth and welcome them warmly into the kingdom of clarity.
But clarity is not always warm and truth is not always easy. The light brings the truth, but the truth is not always comfortable.