If you’ve been on the internet for long enough, you’ve probably heard the ‘inspirational’ phrase “Stars can’t shine without darkness” quite often. As cliche as it is, the quote is completely correct. 

Darkness is not a ‘quality’ that exists in itself, per se, but it is defined as the ‘partial or total absence of light.’ Just like at the beginning of the creation in Genesis 1, the Earth was “Without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.” It wasn’t until God said, “Let there be light,” that the Earth finally had something to distinguish between day and night. 

In the fairytales or movies we’ve seen, we probably recognise that darkness generally has negative connotations and is usually linked with wickedness or evil. Whenever we see detectives visit a scene, it is always dark – and they have flashlights to see and identify objects in the dark

But why do bad things always happen in the darkness?

Of course, we wouldn’t witness a homicide scene happen in the light of day. Or people wouldn’t abuse substances in public where everyone would see them. Well over 50% of violent crimes happen between 6 pm - 6 am. Perpetrators commit acts of sin in the darkness because that is where they think no one is watching them (of course, God can see everything). 

In the Bible, the notion of light is mentioned many times:

“Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.” - Micah 7:8

“For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.” - Psalm 18:28

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” - Psalm 119:105

Or more specifically, the phrase “The Light of the World”:

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” - John 8:12

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” - Matthew 5:14-16

In both cases, both Christ and we are called the lights of the world. Amongst the broken and dark world that we live in, the light of Christ is the only thing that can set us free from the bondage of sin. And in return, we must also share this Light to those around us, so that they, too, might be saved. 

Christ as the Light…

Out of the many ‘names’ that Christ has, such as the Shepherd, Living Water, Messiah, Son of Man, etc., the Light of the World is one that we don’t hear about often. John specifies that 'whoever follows Me [Christ] will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life'. This implies that by walking with Him, we will be in the light, and far from the darkness and wickedness of the world (not quite physically, but we will be protected by God in every step of our lives). 

But, the keyword is, ‘whoever follows Me.’ This does not simply mean knowing of Christ and having a deep and intricate understanding of the most difficult parts of the Bible, but it means having a personal and genuine relationship with Christ. It means to surrender our all to Him. 

…of the World

Being the Light of the world means that the world was made for His Light. When the Light – Christ – comes, He will shine against the darkness and expose all the atrocities of the world. And, following God’s plan for our salvation through Christ’s death, Christ will be enthroned and worshipped by the people of Earth. As John 1:4 quotes, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”. 

Christians as the light of the world

Jesus says, in Matthew 5:14, "You are the light of the world." And in Ephesians 5:8, "At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord." 

Obviously, we can never compare to the holiness and light of Christ, but what does it mean when Jesus says that we are the light of the world? Similar to how we are also the salt of the earth, being the light of the world means that we must rise up and not hide our light as Christians. 

Being a source of light in the world means that we are being witnesses of Christ, proclaiming the Word, and revealing the truth, that is, Jesus Christ. 

Our calling as the lights of the world

God’s work is not only limited to pastors and missionaries, but every single one of us are called to serve Christ and shine together as a church. To fulfill our purpose as the light, we mustn’t stay in already well-lit places (i.e, our comfort zones), but we must reach out to those who do not have the light. Matthew 5:15 reads, “Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” 

So therefore, as Matthew quotes next, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Extra Bible reading: 1 John 1:5-9