We are the light of the world.

We know it’s true because Jesus, the true Light, told us so. We know it’s true because He gives us His light. Why? To shine it. To scatter the darkness. To light the Way to Him, to the Father. To guide the people stumbling around in the shadows of the world.

The shadows…here. They’re not just in the world, are they? Those shadows plague our churches too. Our communities. Our families.

Our hearts.

We’ve all felt them. Sensed them. Cursed them. Given in to them. We know the teeth of fear, of pain, of rejection, of anxiety. We know the hammer blows of judgment and prejudice. We’ve experienced the claws of hatred and bitterness.

Aimed at us. And coming from within us.

We know. We know the darkness. We know it because it surrounds us and sneaks in. We know it because in some ways, it’s more comfortable than the light. It doesn’t make us squint our eyes or shield them from harsh truth. In darkness we can just rest. Or…not. In darkness, we can do what we want, and no one can see to tell us we’re wrong. Darkness lets sin creep in. Darkness lets sin flourish.

We never like to think that the darkness is here. Not within us, not within our families, not within our churches. Darkness is out there. The WORLD is full of darkness.

And it is. But why, then, isn’t our light able to banish it? If the darkness is all without and inside is nothing but light, why is our light not chasing away the darkness? That’s how it works–it only takes one match, one flame, one candle, one lamp, one star in the night to make the darkness retreat. If we are living in that Light, why is it still so dark? More, why does it seem to be getting always darker?

Because we’re not doing our job. Our lights are under bushels of selfishness and judgment. Our lights are hidden behind shutters of tribalism and greed. We see the darkness as an enemy, but we don’t know how to combat it…because too often, we’re too busy fighting the other light-bearers over whether their torches or lamps are trimmed properly. We’re too busy lecturing the darkness for being what it is. We’re too busy philosophizing about how anyone who steps out of our little box is lost, without realizing that our own oil is running low, that are wicks are flickering, that it’s getting dimmer and dimmer.

But we are the light of the world, my friends. We are the light because He gave us His Light. If the world is dark, it’s not the fault of the world–it’s the fault of the people who aren’t illuminating it. Are we hiding our hope away? Are we cursing the darkness instead of shining into it? Are we closing our light off from those who need it most, guarding it jealously?

We all do that. But we don’t have to. We can call upon the Spirit who breathes light and life into our souls. And we can step out into the darkness, ready to shine for Him.

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