I used to scoff at this idea, in how utterly simplistic it is, yet there is a profound truth within this phrase. Yes, it's simplistic but also very mysterious.
Last night I was reading through the book of Matthew with my wife, because she's in a womens bible study and thats the book they are walking through. Anyways, we were reading through Matthew 5 (as well as in a companion book written by N.T. Wright) and came across this portion:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)
N.T. Wright in his Matthew companion book wisely linked Isaiah 42:6-7 with this passage, which says:
“I am the Lord; I have called you[a] in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
7 to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness."
God here then is saying we are the light and we are light so that we can lead others to the light. It's the same description of the beggar, used differently!
This so struck me last night that I've been thinking about it ever since. The reason I have the light is not just for myself, in fact I must share it, because who in their right mind in the middle of a dark area would cover the light? (Matthew 5:15).
I am called by God to set people free from death, to open the eyes of the blind and to set prisoners free! He has entrusted those of us who believe with the Keys of Light which set people free. How often do we chalk up the Christian life to just a "me and my personal walk" thing? How often do we see our salvation as a gift for the world?
I think we skip over passages like this too easily and focus on other portions (I for one know I do). This calls us out of ourselves. This calls us to be among those who are living in darkness. This calls us to go to the jails, prisons and places of death in order to fulfill God's mission!
God says: I will GIVE you as ...as light for the nations!
This life is about so much more than ourselves. Our salvation is truly one beggar who finds the bread and then shows others where to find it!
In a lot of ways, this has caused me much to ponder, wondering if how I've interacted with the Gospel has been right, or with the correct motive. I mean truly, how often have I set prisoners free? How often have I been used to shed light in the darkness...not as often as I could've been.
Sure, we are called to be spiritually renewed. We are called to grow deeper with the Spirit within us bringing us to a fuller Sanctification. Yet, here God clearly states once we accept his salvation he sends us out as light to those lost in darkness. This world is so very dark and we are needed to be what God has called us to be.