The Light of the World


I love this quote from John Ortberg in his excellent and timely new book Eternity Is Now In Session:

Jesus says, “Let your light shine.” Jesus doesn’t say, “Try harder to make your light shine.” Lamps don’t have to try hard. They just glow based on what’s going on inside them.” (p. 91)

That comment unnerved me, but first, a few remarks about the verse Ortberg is referencing:

  • This is the beginning of Jesus’ most famous sermon, The Sermon on the Mount;
  • This comment is in reference to Matthew 5:14-16 in which Jesus says:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (NASB)

  • Notice what is often forgotten . . . the reasons we are to let our light shine: so people will see our good works, and then glorify and praise God.

Now, Ortberg’s comment got my attention for one reason – his last sentence: “They [lamps] just glow based on what’s going on inside of them.”

I know as a Christian leader, good works should permeate my existence, and hopefully that elicits praise to the Father in Heaven, but let’s be honest, at times that can seem like a lot of hard work. On top of that, at any given moment, what’s really going on inside of me is often things like the stress of meeting deadlines, the tension of keeping relationships good and proper, and dare I say, just the worries and struggles of life in general!

What I appreciate about Ortberg’s comment is its simple reminder to daily reflect the light that has been ignited in me by my faith in Jesus. And the good news is that I don’t have to work at that, but simply let it be revealed in everything I do.

That is truly Good News!


Author: Randy Allison

I am an adjunct professor and pastor, driven to understand more about faith and how to live that faith in twenty-first century America.

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