Philippians 2:14-16: “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.”

Yesterday I went around a local lake in the city park to do my workout routine. It had rained the night before and as the Sun came up, it exposed droplets of rain everywhere. It was like magic. Before, all you would notice was a wet surface. Then the Sun hits the scenery, and everything around me glistens and looks like a fairy tale. I felt as if God was telling me: everything is going to be alright.

A common term we use is: “glimmer of hope”, which indicates that there’s a slight chance that something positive will happen.

“Light at the end of a tunnel” is another term expressing hope after a long and difficult period in our life.

If we want to see things “in a different light” then we have to step out of our comfort zone and go to different places to look at things from various angles and gain a different point of view. 

We often say when crime is identified: “We brought this to light”, meaning that light identifies evil.

“Harsh light” is a figure of speech used by painters and photographers when it exposes and draws attention to unpleasant features of a subject. 

God’s light is not harsh, and Jesus has a way with people. His light takes something damaged and bruised and turns it into something beautiful, just like sunlight turns grey scenery into shimmering diamonds.

John describes in his gospel how God’s light brings hope to mankind (John 1:4):

“In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men.”

Jesus lifts people up. Prophet Isaiah describes Him as being the One who would repair a bruised reed instead of crushing it (Isaiah 42:3)

“He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.”

If we lack optimism, maybe it’s time to step into God’s light and let Him point out the beauty of a dreary situation. And even if we feel that nothing good can come out of something so bad, trusting God will help us get through this. I for one like to step outside and look at the Sun rise. And I know that the One who made the Sun always has something encouraging to say.

“Whenever God shines His light on me opens up my eyes so I can see” – Van Morrison

John 8:12: “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’”

If you’re visiting Arizona and one day decide to go on a hike, you’ll quickly discover that most hiking trails here are quite uneven. With boulders strewn all over the desert, hikers keep their eyes glued to the ground to avoid tripping and falling. I’ve done my fair share of hiking in the local deserts, and I especially love early morning hikes. Hiking before the Sun is up can be a bit hazardous as you may imagine. I once forgot to bring my flashlight, BIG mistake! To put it mildly, I stumbled more than I walked. Thankfully, the Sun rose just in time before I got hurt, and my faltering steps quickly turned into confident strides.

Witnessing how the horizon lights up long before the Sun actually arrives is quite a sight to behold! I think I’ll never grow tired of watching the Sun rise. As the Sun progresses higher and higher, the scenery is dipped in light. The world around me becomes distinguishable, and all the grey color tones slowly disappear and vanish into the morning mist. Dawn takes over. The early light paints the desert in soft hues of greens, yellows, reds and blues.

Since we’re all on a journey, probably more arduous than the toughest outdoor experience, we can all relate. In our wilderness walk through life we constantly need light, not just to see where we’re going but also to notice the different shades of color around us; life is meant to be colorful, and seeing that is to enjoy life in all its fullness.  No doubt, dark days and troublesome seasons continue to affect us, still, we can actually see in the dark when the Light of Life is walking right next to us. I think one of the reasons why Christmas lights so many candles – in our homes, in our yards, and in the streets of our towns and cities – is to celebrate the fact that Jesus’s foremost feature is being the Light of the world. He will literally light up our life if we let Him.

The Lord changes our fears and tears into hope and radiant joy, much like sunlight through the rain creates a rainbow. A life well-lived tends to have all the color hues of a rainbow. Jesus dips our life in color! That’s His specialty.

Walk with Him, and you will have the light that leads to life.

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

Salt and light need to spread out, otherwise it’s no good at all!

While in the outdoors focused light can quickly develop into a devastating wildfire, salt landscapes are generally known to be entirely sterile. The Salar de Uyuini near the crest of the Andes is a prominent example. The world’s largest salt flat, an area of 4,086 square miles situated in southwest Bolivia, is virtually devoid of any wildlife or vegetation.

Keeping in mind that Jesus compares children of God with salt and light, we need to avoid checking out of this world to solely keep to our Christian tribes; we’ll quickly realize that spiritually the same will happen: Isolated faith groups “safely” tucked away  from the outside world will eventually develop into barren deserts with no growth and no fruit at all. Isolated, they represent grey and grim death instead of hustling and bustling life. And nothing could be further away from the truth, from representing God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and the Lord of Life.

Revealing God’s mysteries and uncovering His unfathomable love happens as we mingle with the crowd without being swept away by it. Tempted by our personal hang-ups, nobody can claim that we can’t be manipulated and that we’re not tempted by anything anymore.  As long as we’re human and alive on this planet we’re tempted. However, that does not mean we evacuate from here. What we need to do is not to give way to temptation!

Without a robust immune system called “faith” this lifestyle of mingling and overcoming temptation is incredibly difficult if not impossible – and this is where Jesus comes in. Jesus is absolutely unafraid. He goes to the ends of the earth to save a single soul. Our role is to follow Him and be that tangible person that reaches out and is a blessing around here.

So, here’s to the secret of spreading light and salt to make this world a better place – and to point to an even better world to come!

“I see You lifted high
You reign forevermore
I know You also live
With the broken and the poor
I want to see You Jesus
Behind the prison doors
The desperate finding mercy
And the hopeless finding hope”         Brenda Janz

Matthew 5:11: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”

If Jesus took a group snapshot of Him and His followers and would post this on social media you could see some sort of a family resemblance.  Unfortunately, there were no cameras back then, though in the Bible we are running into a series of descriptive snapshots.  Those little nuggets can also bring out family resemblance – maybe more so than a photograph could do.

Take for instance Jesus’ descriptive selfie “I am the Light of the World” and compare this to Jesus’ descriptive snapshot of His followers in Matthew’s gospel: “You are the light of the world”. Family resemblance! No doubt about that. Jesus is the light, so are God’s children.

At the dawn of creation, God first created light (Genesis 1:2-5):

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Four little words were spoken: ‘Let there be light’, and life returned to a formless, empty, and dark planet as a result. This goes to show that even in the most dire of circumstances God can come through for us.  Never give up hope! God is closer to us than we might think.

A small flame can be seen from far away. It’s very common to hide in the dark, yet so much easier to be spotted in the light. Have you ever tried to conceal a flashlight in a dark room? Good luck with that!  Light cannot be hidden as Jesus preached to the crowds in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:15-16):

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

Lamps are installed under a ceiling, not under a table, to light up an entire room.  What purpose is there in spreading light under a table – to find dust on the floor? Asking us to go and make disciples of all nations, Jesus invites us to come out from under a table, or from wherever else we’re hiding, to spread His goodness wherever we go.

If God’s light is in your heart, don’t be surprised when God shows you around. His love is advertised through the way you live your life. His love shines through you because His Light does not and will not hide.

“Yeshua, Light of the World, whoever follows You, will not walk in the dark but will have the light of life. Light of the World by Bill & Evelyn Snyder

John 1:9-10: “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.”

Darkness has trouble seeing through light; light on the other hand sees through darkness. Picture yourself in a dark room, and suddenly someone shines a flashlight on you. Wouldn’t you be blinded by the light? Conversely, if you were the one holding the flashlight, you would see what’s going on in that dark room.

Similarly, the spiritual Light of the world shines through the darkness, which means God can see through anything, and nobody can hide from Him. God’s understanding even penetrates the depths of hell.  Using many word pictures, Psalm 139 describes God’s far-reaching radius (Psalm 139:7-12):

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

Isn’t it hard to see Jesus in a dark and troubled world? A lot of people didn’t recognize the Son of God when He was right there, in plain view, walking the streets of Jerusalem. And who could blame them? Still today people have problems recognizing Jesus. It’s the same phenomenon as gazing into a flashlight while being trapped in the dark. Yet the good news is that we don’t need to understand God’s love to receive it. All we need is an open heart, and we will see the Light.

“I saw the light, I saw the light. No more darkness, no more night!
Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight. Praise the Lord, I saw the light!”
                  Hank Williams