Light And Darkness

By Lee Jones

We are accustomed to the metaphor of light. Any of us born with sight know the difference between light and darkness. That metaphor is often used throughout the Bible, often with the sense of good triumphing over evil. Often darkness is used as willing blindness in the part of those who hate God (Romans 1:16-21) and that it’s a perilous and dark thing to look to sinful guides and despise God (Isaiah 8:19-22)

We are blessed that the God of Hope shone a light on us while we were still sinners by sending his Son to carry our sins. As Matthew, quoting Isaiah, said in 4:26 “the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

God’s church is a city on a hill. We represent the exclusive truth of the gospel, and it stands out against all falsehood as obviously as Minas Tirith or Masada.

The grace of the light of Christ is that it doesn’t go out; it is passed on through evangelism and fellowship. Which brings us to this passage from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:14-16). Jesus is teaching his disciples and preparing them for the coming time when they will be ministering to the ends of the earth.

Being the nerd that I am, the phrase “A city on a hill cannot be hidden” always takes me to a location from the Lord of the Rings. Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, is an amazing fortress city built on a mountain, topped with a mansion on the leveled top of the mountain overlooking the valley below. It’s one of the most important and striking cities in all of Middle Earth. It actually closely resembles Herod’s mountain mansion Masada in Israel (I went there last year, and that place is incredible, in case you haven’t heard me rant about it on the podcast).

God’s church is a city on a hill. We represent the exclusive truth of the gospel, and it stands out against all falsehood as obviously as Minas Tirith or Masada.

Jesus, true genius of the sermon illustration, talks about how we use lamps to make his point. What is the sense of lighting a lamp if you cover it up? It would be useless and be snuffed out. Instead, it’s to be put on a stand and light the house. This is a great picture of evangelism. We have been given the light and we must put it on display, not ourselves but the gospel of Jesus Christ, and communicate it fully.

Verse 16 mentions displaying good works. Before we allow ourselves to think we should become super-Christians and virtue signal our faith everywhere and get the deserved pats on the back, let’s remind ourselves that our own good works are a gift from God and don’t justify us. Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared for us beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Our good works aren’t for our own adulation, but all for the glory and praise of YHWH. That’s why I always close my blogs with the same phrase, “glory to God alone” or “Soli Deo Gloria” because I want the last thing the reader to think after reading my mess is “praise God.” I hope you do. Our works are intended for God’s praise ultimately. So I pray this is a good reminder that all believers have been passed a lamp by the faithful witness who proclaimed the gospel to us. I pray we all reflect the light of Christ to the sin-darkened world around us.

Glory to God alone.

Lee Jones