In what has become known as the “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus told his followers, “You are the light of the world.” Then He added, “A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do [people] light a lamp and put it under a basket” (Matthew 5:14-15).
An oil lamp in the first century was put on a stand to give light to everyone in the house.
These references to things that give out light and are seen tell us that the actions of Christ’s followers should be the same; they should be visible.
The lesson became clear when Jesus added: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (verse 16).
That is to say, in anything followers of Christ do, they should demonstrate the godly principles by which they live. It is not primarily by occasional acts of community service, but by living every day by Jesus’ principles that onlookers should notice a difference in them. That means everyday followership, not a once-a-week show of allegiance. It requires sincerity and truth in daily life.
What Jesus was saying flew in the face of the false piety the Pharisees and religious leaders practiced. They claimed to observe and teach the law of God, but their words and their actions were in contradiction.
Followers of Christ in the first century would have understood Jesus’ words as vital guidance
in living their lives. If we claim to have a relationship with Christ, we too must avoid pretense and allow these principles to guide us. People who come into contact with us should appreciate a notable difference between our attitudes and actions and those of the world around us.
For more on this topic:
Gospels for the 21st Century
This fascinating journey through the Gospels will change your perception of Jesus and His original followers. Gospels for the 21st Century is the result of taking the New Testament at its word, reading it carefully for what it actually says. It weaves the four Gospel accounts into a single, compelling story—the story of Jesus Christ. Whether you are a believer in Jesus as the Messiah or are simply interested in learning more about His life and teachings, what follows may surprise you and open the door to a more accurate and enlightened reading.