The church is so wonderful, even in its broken state. I feel this way not only about the ideal of the church, but also about each member in the church.
Just like discipleship, church is not a romantic ideal. Like following Jesus, church is sometimes a hard and messy endeavor. Nonetheless, it is a privilege to be part of the church.
In Matthew 5 Jesus says something remarkable about the people of his church. He remarks that they are the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). It is a fascinating claim. Light is an essential entity, necessary for much of normal living.
Try to imagine your life without light – it would be very different and quite difficult. There are people who are completely visually impaired physically. The presence of light, whether natural or produced through some medium, has no place in their lives. They have no choice but to live a “normal” life without light.
This is the spiritual reality for those not connected to Christ. Without his life and light within them, they find ways to function “normally.” As image bearers of God, they are still able to experience the goodness of God, and subsequently, life itself. However, they do not experience the light Christ is referencing.
That is a sad place to find oneself, for without the light Christ gives, one is truly without essential guidance and illumination for their life – in other words, lost.
After stating that his people are the light of the world, Christ quickly admonishes us to behave as light and he illustrates the absurdity of trying to conceal the true light we possess (see Mt 5:15).
It is silly to have the light you need for a task and then refuse to use it. Yet I sometimes feel a measure of reluctance within me to let my light shine brightly before others. There are many voices in our culture and perhaps within my broken sinful self that whisper (or shout) that I should not be so bold as to let others see the light I possess. Perhaps you have heard those voices as well.
We must not give into the pleas from these voices; to do so is to deny who we are.
We are indeed light in our world – on our streets, in our workplaces, our families, and our city. As Dallas Willard once said,
As people of Christ we are the only ones truly at home in God’s universe.
We are not lost – and we should not live as though we are. We must not buy the lie that we do not belong where God calls us to be. We do belong here, not because this world is our ultimate home – it is surely not – but it is where God has placed us, and to conceal the light that Christ has made us to be is to neglect our call, and not flourish as people of faith.
It is by faith we lean into our identity as carries of the light and life of Christ and boldly engage our world in the sufficiency of Jesus.