Lights of the World
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be
hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a
candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let
your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and
glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5: 14-16)
The life of the man called Jesus of Nazareth is well documented not only
by Biblical sources, but also by Jewish and Roman historians and
scholars. Various ancient writings verify that He lived 2,000 years ago
and was crucified with criminals. His brief three year ministry changed
the world forever. Was He a prophet, a wise man, a good man, or actually
the Son of God as He claimed? What was it about this man that caused so
many to follow Him and even be willing to die for Him? Those who believe
Jesus was simply a good man, wise man or a prophet must still be able to
explain why He would claim to be the Son of God. This contradicts sound
judgment. Today, a man who might claim to be the Son of God would be
considered mentally unstable, at the very least, possibly even insane.
Jesus is an enigma to many, yet to Christians, He is the Son of God,
part of the Godhead, part of the Holy Trinity. This is difficult for our
limited minds to fathom, yet as Christians, this is our faith. We
believe that Christ was fully God and fully man, our Creator and our
During His three-year ministry, the disciples traveled with Him day and
night. They knew Him intimately, and they believed His claims. They
believed that Christ was God, one person of the Trinity. The disciples
believed Him so faithfully that they willingly died horrible deaths
rather than renounce their faith. They believed He rose from the dead on
the third day. They claimed to have seen Him bodily after His
resurrection, not as a spirit, and claimed to have eaten and drank with
Him. If the Roman and Jewish leaders wanted to dispel the rumors that
Christ rose from the dead, and thereby crush the Christian movement, all
they had to do was to produce His dead body, yet they never could. At
first, some claimed that the disciples stole His body, but this would
have been impossible with Roman Centurions posted to guard the tomb.
Besides, would anyone be willing to die for what they knew to be a lie?
This rumor simply faded away. Instead, the martyred disciples were the
lights of the world that ignited a fire that burns to this day.
To unbelievers, the Resurrection and Christ’s claim to be the Son of
God must be the greatest lies ever perpetrated by one man. To
Christians, Jesus is the light to which we are all drawn. He is the
light that gives us hope. He is the light, which even unwittingly draws
unbelievers. That light is centered on love; “He that loveth not,
knoweth not God; for God is love” (I John 4:8). Even unbelievers
acknowledge the power of love. God is the source of love. But why would
an all-knowing God descend from His throne of glory to become a man in a
world full of evil, knowing He would be rejected and even crucified?
Christ became man to save us from the curse of sin and to offer us the
gift of eternal life. He became a man to allow us to “see” God or to
know Him, to invite us into a relationship with Him, and to teach us how
to love by being a role model for us.
God dwells in a distant place, in a spiritual dimension. He is not of
this world. We cannot experience Him through our physical senses. Only
certain prophets had firsthand knowledge of God because He chose them.
He spoke to them, sometimes audibly, and sometimes through angels,
dreams or visions. When Christ became man, He entered our dimension, our
reality. The more we understand Christ, the better we understand God.
“Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast
thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”
(John 14:8-9). By getting to know Christ, we can know God.
As Christians, we also know that Christ became a man to die for our
sins, so we can be reconciled to God. When we become reconciled to God,
we will be given the gift of eternal life, dwelling in His presence. He
is our Savior. He is our Intercessor with God. He became the sacrifice
required for our forgiveness. This was a pure act of divine love. Our
sinless Christ died an unbearable death for us because He loves us and
desires a relationship with us. He accomplished this through the Holy
Spirit, which dwells within all believers. Christ explained to the
disciples that it was necessary for Him to go to His Father, so He can
send down His Holy Spirit to live in us. Through the Holy Spirit, we can
experience God firsthand. He listens to us and speaks to us. He comforts
us, guides us and loves us. He imparts the knowledge of God to us and
grants us wisdom. The Holy Spirit blesses us and works through us to
bless others. Developing our relationship with God is key to living a
fulfilled life in Christ.
Jesus also became a man to teach humanity genuine, pure, and perfect
love. Jesus taught us how to love by the way He lived His life. He is
our role model of divine love. Jesus sought out sinners, the needy, the
poor, and those discarded by society. He healed the lepers, the blind
and the deaf. He forgave all, even those who crucified Him. He felt
compassion for the thousands who came to hear Him speak, so He fed them.
He felt compassion toward the dying, so He raised them from the dead.
Jesus never refused anyone. He freely gave to all who sought Him out and
to all who asked anything of Him. He came as a servant to serve. His
love extended to everyone, even those who hated him. “For God so loved
the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in
Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
However, God’s love for us extends beyond this one act of sacrifice.
To fully comprehend God’s love for us, we need to understand the man,
Jesus. We need to understand His journey through life, what He endured,
what He suffered. We can only truly grasp His love for us by walking in
His shoes, by traveling life’s journey as He did. God wants us to
become like Christ, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did
predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be
the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29). By walking in His
shoes and living life as Christ did, we can actually experience God and
His immeasurable love for us. God becomes real to us. As a result, we
become lights to the world, proof of God’s love. Our lives become
evidence of God, confirmation of His existence, proof of His goodness.
Christ taught His followers that “Ye are the light of the world”
(Matthew 5:14). According to Christ, we are to illuminate others to the
truth, the truth of God, and we are to do this by being examples,
following in His footsteps. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If
any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross,
and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). As Orthodox Christians, we are taught
to strive to be like Christ. We have been taught that if we make Christ
our role model and try to live as He did, we would live life as a true
Christian. We would love God, and we would love others as ourselves.
However, many do not fully comprehend the depth of love, which was
intended by Christ. We may be aware of His parables and teachings, but
for some reason, there is a disconnect in our daily lives. We embrace
Christ’s teachings, yet the challenge is for us to live out His
teachings on a day to day basis. “The spirit indeed is willing, but
the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41).
It was Christ’s love for us, which ignited His early followers and
which ignites our faith today. Christ became a man, not only to save us,
but to teach us how much God loves us and to teach us how to love. By
following Him, by following His example, we, too, can experience His
divine love. As Christians, this is our purpose, our life-long journey.
Our journey is toward Christ, toward an intimate relationship with Him
and toward His divine love. Our journey is toward a loving God who
extends His open arms to us even as Christ’s arms were extended on the
cross. Jesus invites us into a personal relationship with Him, which
allows us to mature as Christians. As we choose to follow in Christ’s
footsteps we become transformed. This journey is life-changing. We will
begin to develop attributes of Christ that will support us through the
trials and tribulations of our lives. We will experience God’s
presence in our lives and His love for us. As a result, we will be able
to develop a true bond with God, a union that will fill us with His
divine love. The deeper our relationship to Christ becomes, the more we
will desire to be like Him. This desire sets us on the path toward
Christ. That path is our journey toward perfection, toward becoming more
perfect in Christ. This journey is toward God.
The journey toward perfection is for all those who desire to experience
God’s divine love in their lives. It is for all those who seek God and
desire an experiential relationship with Him. This journey is for all
those who wish to discover God’s peace and joy. Christ gave us a road
map to follow through the Beatitudes given to us at the Sermon on the
Mount recorded by Matthew. The Beatitudes actually outline a path for us
to follow in Christ’s footsteps. By following this path toward Christ,
God is revealed to us and becomes a beacon in our lives. Two thousand
years ago, a fire humbly and meekly exploded into our reality. That fire
was Christ. For those who seek God, that fire continues to burn brightly
in our hearts today.
Excerpted from "A Journey Toward Perfection" by Helen Kamenos. Copyright © 2016 by Helen Kamenos. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.