By Afrika Mhlope
Jesus is the light. Most of us of a Christian persuasion do not question this. We follow Him because He does not only point the way but He is the way. If you met Him today and asked Him for the way, guess what? He will point to Himself. No other religious leader could do this. These and other attributes of our Lord set Him apart and invoke in us a desire to follow Him all the days of our lives.
What is of interest to me is what did He mean when He looked at a multitude and said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid”? (Matthew 5:14). He was talking to people who had just started to follow Him because of the miracles He performed. Most of these folk had not had the benefit of being His followers for many years, like some of us. At the onset of their conversion Jesus began to assign them the responsibility of reflecting light to a dark world. In this verse our Lord chose to employ an allegoric language and it is therefore prudent for us to try and unpack its meaning.
Light — this is one of those words wherein most of us would struggle to define its meaning but have a general understanding of it. We all know what light is because we also know what light is not. Light is the opposite of darkness and in fact when light is switched on, darkness cannot withstand it. Light has certain characteristics and properties. One of them is energy. The Church of Jesus has to be energetic. She cannot afford to be dormant and only sheepishly raise an opinion when things get really bad. She cannot be reactive and apologetic but must actively participate in finding solutions to our world’s ills.
Another property of light is speed. Whenever you hear someone talking about the speed of light, you know that is really fast. It is so fast in fact that one ray of light can travel around the world seven times in one second. The Church has to speedily fill the whole world with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only should she fill the world as in earth but also the world as in the cosmopolitan systems. Our modern world is grappling with challenges like global warming, pandemics, conflicts, poverty, etc. How is the Church bringing light to these issues?
Our president recently gave his State of the Nation address in which he outlined the government’s programme for this financial year. The president spoke about the chapter 9 institutions, education, crime, job creation, smme development, mining and manufacturing, infrastructure, youth, corruption, HIV/AIDS, the country’s international role, etc: all issues of relevance to the Church. Many people and organisations will respond and comment on this speech but I wonder if the Church has anything to say.
What about issues that have grabbing headlines of late. For instance issues like; education, nationalization, crime, the upcoming elections and everything associated with it. We should have Bible based opinions on these, right? Jesus would have. He not only spoke on matters deemed to be ethical and religious but He also spoke about contemporary issues like; civil law, poverty alleviation, taxation, saving, profiting, time-management, leadership, etc. What is it that we imbibe in our churches today that causes us to be anything but light?