A CALL AWAY FROM ISOLATIONISM: Exploring Matthew 5:14-16
In the previous posts we discussed some of the basic understanding to lay a good foundation for the frequently used Biblical metaphor of "light."
Light is representative of holiness, righteousness, and truth.
Truth can only come from God, He is the only source of the light of truth. This truth is made known in YHVH's instructions or Torah.
The Torah then becomes the path by which we understand righteousness and holiness and how to walk in them. It points us not only to those truths, but the truth of the Messiah and His ultimate mission, reconciliation and atonement.
Being a City on a Hill will come at a cost. It will costs those who follow any version of "truth" they currently holds that does not come into alignment with the light of truth in YHVH's Word. In addition, it will cost every kingdom and man-made success built upon their own effort and skill. The light does not shine for its own glory, but the glory of YHVH.
Being a a City on a Hill or a Light on its stand often results in those who wish to remain in darkness to hate you based on the light you shine. We are not greater than our master. Our Master, Yeshua, was hated, we will be too.
Despite the hate, vengeance remains YHVH's, we must stay above the fray and trust Him alone to work His will in our lives no matter the cost, including our comfort, livelihoods, and even our lives. Being a light means remaining in the light, despite what those in darkness intend to inflict upon us.
In the previous 3 parts of this series we have covered some challenging implications of being a light, this final post will focus on one last unforeseen consequence of being a true light-bearer, being called out of isolationism. Every post up to this point is marching to this final conclusion, we CANNOT excuse isolationist behavior if we are to truly be a light to a darkened and evil world who is desperately clutching at the final throws of life. Remember, our light is not our own, it is a reflection of the truth we follow based on our faith in YHVH. It is His way, His truth, His light alone, therefore it must be handled in the manner in which He declares is right and just. That means, any other form of action is just another form of darkness which proclaims itself as light, yet is absent of the singular Light of Truth that only comes from the Father of lights, YHVH. There is no other light, either we walk in it or not. We can no longer stand silent, willingly hiding the light we have been entrusted with, not matter the reason behind that choice. Stand! Be Bold! True light is not hidden!
Before we go any farther in this post, let's take a minute to reflect on the foundational truth in which this entire lifestyle is built upon.
Matthew 5:14-16 esv "14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 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.16 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."
Two unyielding truths are laid out in this short passage: 1. City on a Hill CANNOT be hidden.
2. Lamp doesn't fulfill its purpose under a basket.
The implications of the first truth is much deeper than many of us often allow ourselves to dig. Consider the following, "if a city on a hill cannot be hidden, and you are hiding, then you are NOT in that city." As so many believers find themselves struggling to reconcile self preservation and being truly exposed as a lighted city on a hill, this truth should undergird your resolve more than anything else. You cannot claim to be in the city of light, if you are hiding the light. The Scriptures echo this concept.
1 John 1:5-7 esv
"5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."
Isaiah 2:1-5 esv
"1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of YHVH shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, 3 and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of YHVH from Jerusalem. 4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. 5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of YHVH."
Deuteronomy 4:5-8 esv
"5 See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as YHVHmy God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as YHVH our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this Torah that I set before you today?"
Being a light, apart of the City on a hill means walking in the ways of YHVH and in Him there is no light. If we willingly "withhold" that light because we don't want to be seen, then we are not truly walking in His ways. God is light, in Him there is no darkness, so if we do not walk in the light, then we are not apart of that City of light. There are no other options, either we walk in it, or we don't. Hidden light is no light, light only matters if it is seen, otherwise it is darkness, which leads us to our second point. As Deuteronomy 4:6 and Isaiah 2:5 both eluded to, light has a purpose, and if that light is not fulfilling its purpose, it is worthless. We cannot be hidden and be light. IT DOESN"T WORK! It doesn't matter how you rationalize it, explain it, or justify it, isolationism is an attempt to hide the Light from those in darkness. If you dare to put your light under a basket, then you fail in the purpose the Master has given to each and every one of us who claims to walk in His light. You cannot be both, you cannot be hidden and an effective light at the same time. It's one or the other, we are told to be a light, so we must not be hidden.
Isaiah 60:1-5, 19-21 esv
"1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of YHVH has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but YHVH will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you. 3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. 4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. 5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you...19 The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but YHVH will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. 20 Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for YHVH will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended. 21 Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified."
Acts 13:45-52 esv
"45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."
No more can we claim to be people of the Light, and refuse to share that light with the nations. Just as Paul and the apostles faced certain persecution for their BOLD testimony of faith, they did not hide their light. We too must follow in that way, the path made clear by our Master, Yeshua, and walk in the light so that all may see our good works and turn to the Lord.