God Has Made You a Light in a Dark Place

Matthew 5: 13-16 (Epiphany 5 – 2014)

“God Has Made You a Light in a Dark Place”

It is the first thing we do when we walk into a dark room. It is the first thing we do when we begin a project. We flip a switch. We shed some light on the matter. It was the first thing God did as a part of his creating marvels. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4: 6). Paul ties the creation of light to the spiritual truth that Jesus makes for us today. You are the salt of the earth. You are lights in this world.

As in the physical world, darkness is the absence of light, so it is in the spiritual world. Those who live apart from God are described as those who sit in darkness. Those who live by faith in Jesus are described as those who live as children of the day. God’s full intention is for the two to meet in order that he is glorified and that that those who are in the darkness can be brought to his Son, who is the radiance of his glory.

Let it Shine!

Jesus has made you lights in that “City on the Hill”. There is a city on the hillside of Galilee known as Zifat. To this day it is used at night as reference point for sailors and fishermen. He tells us “Let your light shine before men so that they may see your good deed and praise your Father in heaven.” Jesus lights up our path. He also makes us shimmering reflections of himself. His desire is that others who are still lost follow the one who are following him. That light shines to others through us when we …

  • Put aside the deeds of darkness by confessing our sins and asking for his forgiveness.

  • Replace those deeds with actions of faith and kindness to serve the people around us;

  • Gladly serve and follow the One who died for our sins and was raised to life;

  • Study his Word daily and learn to defend its teachings against errors;

  • Collectively gather as children of that light and shine brightly together;

  • Hold up that true light by supporting the ministry of the gospel with our prayers, offerings, sacrifices, timely efforts and the cheerful use of the abilities God has given to each one of us.

  • Defend the Truths of God in the presence of those who would mock us for it;

  • Lift up the hurting and the helpless who have been damaged in the darkness and by the darkness

Letting out light shine is hard work. The moment we let our guard down, darkness creeps in. Darkness invites us into its own way of thinking. Darkness has a way of draining our energy. Darkness has a way of collecting our loved ones and friends away from the Light. The chief of the darkness, Satan, works hard at sending his breath against the Candle’s of Christianity in an effort to snuff them out.

Financial burdens seem to overwhelm us. Sickness and the reality of death’s door dash against our hearts. Gripping conflict among the people we work with, live with, even worship with; they all seem to rob us of the joy of going about our daily tasks. Our sinful hearts leave room for hate; fear; depression; loss of temper; jealousy; and lack of contentment. Those elements of darkness have a way of draining the light right out of us.

“No one lights a lamp and hides it under a bowl.” When we grow weary, and we do grow weary, that is exactly what we are tempted to do: crawl and hide. We hide our faith. We hide our words. We hide our energy. We hide our help. The smile of joy grows dim easily.

Give it Power!

God has made you a Light in a dark place. When our lights get dim he recharges our batteries. Our Heavenly Father chooses to let us live in this world for a time before going to heaven. But he also promises to keep our lamps of faith lit through his Son Jesus. “God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4: 6).

Jesus hears and answers every prayer. Jesus has forgiven every sin and removed all guilt through his blood. Jesus is the Light in our darkness which has overcome every fear. He has defeated every power that stands opposed to us, including death. He still holds us in the palm of his hand and leads us through this life on to the next. Jesus is the power source of the Light he uses in us to shine to others. Jesus has put us on the right path – the one that leads to heaven. He also desires that we stay on that path. He intends to use our lights to bring others along as well. Not only is Jesus the way that leads to heaven. He is also our Guide through our time on earth now.

Jesus uses another illustration which is very useful for us. “But what if the salt looses it saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” We do get tired. We do lose the spark, the vim and vigor. Believers can’t go around shining their lights all day and thinking they don’t get burned out. The darkness is where we are. The darkness is where we shine. The darkness is a strong power.

That is why our Shepherd-Guide handles his wayward sheep the way he does. He keeps running after us to carry us back to the path of righteousness. He keeps shining the light of His Word and the calm of his voice. “Why did you doubt?” “Do not be afraid.” “Come to Me for Rest.” He is the Light of the world. When he brings us back to the fold, where the source of Light is, he charges us back up again.

  • He sends the Holy Spirit into our hearts through Baptism and the Word.

  • He lifts up our souls with pardon and peace in the Lord’s Supper.

  • He sends us each other, the fellowship of the Church and Christian friends

  • He points us heavenward so that we are reminded of the eternal good of having our lights on.

  • He gives us physical rest in a night of sleep, or in time away so that we can recharge physically and emotionally as well.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Colossians 3: 15-16). His “Word is a lamp for your feet and a light for your path” (Psalm119: 105). Consider Paul’s words after he spoke of God’s light shining in the face of Christ: “We are pressed hard on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed … All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of the Father” (2 Corinthians 4: 8; 14).

I know you get tired of constantly shining in dark places. The world is a cruel place. Let the Light of Christ shine in you and through you to others. They are tired and afraid in the darkness of unbelief, or fear, or persecution. You are not alone. Christ lives in you through the Spirit. There are many other lamps shining with you. In case you doubt it, look around. They are in the pew next to you. They live under your roof. They may even be driving down the road next to you or working where you work.

Jesus has made you a light in dark places. Let Him shine through you. He is the power source of that Light. The glory belongs to his Father! What a blessing if just one person goes home at night having been touched by the light of Christ because of your light shining their darkness! Amen.