That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the middle of a crooked and perverse nation…
I. CHRISTIANS ARE LIGHTS. Such was their appearance in St. Paul's time. It was a dark age for the world. Old faiths were lost; horrible vices overshadowed society; gloom settled down on the most thoughtful minds. In this spiritual midnight the Christians appear like stars, each with the light of truth and goodness. A similar position always belongs of right to Christian men and women,
1. The light that comes with Christ is not confined to him. He is first of all the Light of the world. But through him his disciples, reflecting his light, become also the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
2. This light is not diffused through the atmosphere as a vague radiance. It is focused and concentrated in Christian men and women. The truth influences the world through the persons who hold it.
3. This light is in individuals. It, is not the general illumination of the Church, but the particular light of each Christian, that enlightens the world. Every Christian is a distinct luminary.
II. CHRISTIANS ARE LIGHTS BECAUSE THEY HOLD FORTH THE WORD OF LIFE. They do not shine in their own goodness, nor merely to spread abroad their own notions. They are the lamps; God's truth is the flame. Christians, then, like the Jews of old, have the custody of "the oracles of God;" but not merely in the literal sense of possessing the Bible. Rather they declare and interpret the truth of revelation by manifesting the character and power of it in their own lives. The truth thus revealed is a word of life. It is a vital truth, the secret of the Christian life, the promise of life to the world.
III. THE CHRISTIAN LIGHTS ARE SEEN BY THE WORLD. "Ye are seen as lights in the world." It is our duty to let our light shine, not to hide it under a bushel. The Church exists for the good of the world. She receives light that she may give it to the people that sit in darkness. This is the most effectual way of commending the Word of life to the world. Moreover, whether we shine well or ill, the eye of the world is upon us.
IV. THE CHARACTER OF CHRISTIANS DETERMINES THEIR EFFECTIVENESS AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD. The Church has made too much of orthodoxy to the neglect of goodness. We may have the best oil, and yet, if the lamp be out of order, the flame will flicker painfully, and if the glass be foul, the light will be dull. Christians may have the pure Word of life within them, but they will only hold it forth clearly to the world when the lamp is trim and the glass clean - when their own life is healthy and no earthly-mindedness checks the outflow of the Divine radiance. Nothing is more fatal to the clear shining of the Christian light than quarrels among Christians (ver. 14). Love in the Church is an essential condition of light in the world. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;