I heard a story once of a man who lived in a dingy little hut together with his family. In the night, some things would bite and sting his family making the victims very sick to the point of death. A rich man living nearby offered him a lamp to light up his dingy hut. Once the poor man lit the lamp in the evening, he and his family were in shock. Crawling out of the crevices of the hut were snakes and scorpions! The poor man immediately took the lamp and in the dead of the night returned it to the rich man claiming it had brought snakes and scorpions into his hut!
Whereas true believers will be blamed for being antisocial, anti-progress and anti-human rights, their real problem is simply being light. You see, light exposes! It makes clear what’s in the wrong place. Today we look critically at verse 15.
Light Under a Basket?
Jesus begins this text by explaining that people do not light a light and then place it under a basket (other translations use the word bowl though the original word is basket). People will not do this, because the very purpose of the light is to shine upon the house. The primary use of light is to dispel darkness. The Christian who is called to practice the beatitudes should not shy away from living out his/her life. We should intentionally practise our faith in order to dispel the darkness that surrounds us. It is a common misconception that Christians only practice their faith on Sundays, or that only preachers are ministers of the gospel. The truth is that we are called to shine our light and not to put it under a basket. Jesus is teaching us here not to be shy about our confession, instead practice our faith intentionally as our main ministry. True faith is not about many activities, but about the simple undiluted Christian life. This is our true witness to the world. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 reads, “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (ESV).
Our faith is like a seed of a tree, planted in obscurity, hidden from view. But once it takes root and begins to grow, it gradually becomes visible, distinct then influential to its environment. The lesson here is simple, “people do not light a lamp and put it under a basket!”
Light under No Barrier
So what should true believers do? Jesus counsels that they put their light on the lampstand so that it can illuminate the whole house. True faith must occupy its rightful place as the true source of light in the world. People today are talking about the “new normal” after the Covid-19. I am persuaded that the relevance of true faith will not be in the glamorous public display of pomp and colour we have come to be accustomed to; but rather in the humble but firm influence of personal faith. The “new normal” for true believers will be the “old normal.” It will be going back to the sermon on the mount and asking ourselves where our true influence lies. It will be living out our faith in the market place attracting the true seekers and repelling those who love darkness more than light. For the Scripture says, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21- ESV).