Jesus tells his followers that they are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16) and that they are unable to be hidden. No one puts a lamp under a bushel basket because the purpose of a lamp is to help people see in dark places. Jesus Christ’s followers shine the light of the Lord on those around them by the words they speak and the actions they take. This is one of the great gospel images of discipleship: the light of discipleship in Christ shining for all the world to see.
Light cannot be anything other than what it is. It’s bright; it dispels darkness; it enables people to see what they are doing. God is light, and since He sent His Holy Spirit to live inside believers, so are we. As his ambassadors on earth, we shine even when we don’t know it. We reflect God’s very presence in the world. It is not enough for us to know about God. As disciples, we have to be the activity of God in the world.
The bushel basket Jesus refers to in the gospel is big enough to cover a lamp. But Jesus’ teaching suggests that lights don’t magically end up underneath bushel baskets. The only way for our light to be covered is if we put a basket over it. He describes a light not snuffed out but covered up. The light is not extinguished. It is rendered useless. But what baskets prevent our light from shining? What are they in reality? Maybe the basket is anger, envy, selfishness or an insecurity of some kind. Maybe it is shame. These kinds of baskets and others block out God’s light trying to shine through us. Good stewards of the light who follow Jesus do not give their time, energy, and resources to the bushel baskets that cover the light.
Jesus encourages us to let our light shine before others, calling us to live an active life of faith, not a passive one. We have many grace-filled opportunities to shine our light brightly for the Lord and to share the Good News with all those with whom we come in contact. Our light reveals to those among our family, friends, neighbors and community what we believe by how we live our lives. You are the light of the world. Be a good steward of your light. Let your light shine before others so that they, too, may see the glory of God.