In contemporary Christian art and culture, Jesus is often portrayed as a lighthouse - one that guides the way for us, and one that can be our beacon of hope when we're lost and weary.
And that's a great analogy, because it’s true. Jesus is indeed the Light of the World (John 8:12) and beckons us with the light of his life, ministry, teachings and death. These aspects of Jesus shine upon all who have encountered him in the past twenty centuries.
But to take this analogy too far would be to assume we need only gaze lovingly at the light, but not follow it to where it points us, threatening to obscure what Jesus actually said about the light which he was giving off, how we are meant to perceive it, and what we are meant to do with it after we perceive it.
Jesus not only calls on us to HEAR about his light, but also calls on us to drink in the light of his teachings, and challenges us to radiate OUR light in order to be a LIGHT for OTHERS in this world. Because, while Jesus is the light of the world, we, also, are called to be the light of the world (Matt. 5:14) And if we claim that we have fellowship with him, but continue to walk in darkness, we're lying to ourselves (1 John 1:6.)
This world of ours, while a wondrous gift of God and filled with Goodness and great gifts, is also filled with darkness, despair and suffering. It can seem a very dark place, obscured by self-seeking, self-centeredness, petty wealth-seeking, and self-importance that all lead to destructive behavior. When we make serving our Self more important than serving others, we turn our backs on the Light that is contained in Jesus' teachings, which teach us the opposite lessons.
The light of a lighthouse is meant to warn ships of impending doom, and guide them in a more narrow and clearer path towards safety.
But simply gazing at the lighthouse, admiring the light without understanding the purpose of the light, then refusing to act upon its warning is pointless.
We must not forget that the light of Jesus is meant to shine THROUGH US to enlighten the entire world.
At his baptism, God anointed this man, Jesus, as His special spokesman, and as he said in the synagogue in the Gospel of Luke, God anointed Jesus to "preach the gospel to the poor” (Luke 4:18) and to open eyes and heal sickness.
The light of Jesus' teachings calls upon us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, and care for the sick. We are to open people's eyes to the sickness of sin and reckless rebellion against God's Moral Laws, and heal them of this sin, leading them into the Light of God's Truth, as exemplified by Jesus' life and teachings.
The light is meant to AWAKEN WITHIN US the spirit of God that anointed Jesus, and send us out into the world to BE the light and to do Good in imitation of Jesus’ example (John 13:15.)
"You are the light of the world," he says. "A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 5:14-16.)
Let us see the Light, and act upon it, so that others may come to know it as we do.