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You are the Light of the World

November 17, 2017 No Comment

Rev. Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer

by Glenn E. Schaeffer

Who wrote the following words?

“We live on earth for no other purpose than to be helpful to others. Otherwise it would be best for God to take away our breath and let us die as soon as we are baptized and have begun to believe. But He lets us live here in order that we may lead other people to believe, doing for them what He has done for us.”

If you answered “Martin Luther” then you are “smarter than a fifth grader!”
Luther’s name is not usually listed among the great Christian missionaries. He never traveled to another country as a missionary nor did he start a mission society. Yet, his contributions to God’s missionary enterprise are immeasurable! How so?

  • Luther “rediscovered” the Gospel message that we are saved by God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus.
  • Luther wrote the Small Catechism so that “the heathen who want to be Christians are taught and guided in what they should believe, know, do, and leave undone according to the Christian faith.”
  • Luther published 350 works and 3,000 letters, and directly or indirectly taught approximately 16,000 theological students enrolled at the University of Wittenberg. Luther’s literary work and students proclaimed the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
  • Luther wrote more than 35 hymns that planted the Gospel in the hearts of people. In Luther’s hymn: “May God Embrace Us With His Grace” we find the mission message: “Let Jesus’ healing power be revealed in richest measure, converting every nation,” and “May people everywhere be won to love and praise you truly” (LW 288:1, 3).
  • Luther’s German translation of the Bible did much to evangelize unbelievers. Thanks to Luther’s translation, St. Paul’s longing, as expressed in 2 Thessalonians 3:1, “that the Word of the Lord might spread quickly and become known in its splendour,” became a reality not only in Germany but throughout Europe where Bible translations were made with reference to Luther’s German translation.

Still, Luther was tempted to hide his light under a bushel. In a letter Luther sent to his Father-confessor, Staupitz, in 1519, Luther admitted, “I long to be quiet but am driven into the middle of the storm.” Martin Luther was also often tormented by his sin and ashamed of his life. “What kind of light of Christ am I?” he wondered.

But what propelled him “into the middle of the storm” when he was tempted to “hide his light under a bushel” was the fact that Luther daily stood at the foot of Christ’s cross and basked in the light of Christ’s grace where he experienced peace, joy, and hope. He wanted the people of the world to have these God-given treasures and experiences. So, he who lived in the Light couldn’t help but reflect that Light in his own life

He who lived in the Light couldn’t help but reflect that Light in his own life.

No light was shining in our hearts when we were conceived and born in sin. And yet Jesus says to us, “You are the light of the world!” This is a statement of fact. We are the light of the Christ to the world by virtue of the Lord’s calling. It was Jesus Christ “who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Paul writes, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).

Christ’s love and forgiveness shine in our lives. As his baptized people, we live with the assurance that, even as we have those moments and days when our light is hidden under a bushel, we are forgiven! Eternal life is ours. When we close our eyes and enter the darkness called death, we will see the Light, Jesus Christ, shining in all His heavenly glory and majesty. What a glorious day that will be! But, until then, we who continue to bask in the light of Christ’s love “remain His lights in the world.”

Join me in praying a slightly adapted prayer of Martin Luther: “Dear Father, we pray thee, give us Thy Word, that the Gospel may be sincerely preached throughout the world and that it may be received by faith and may work and live in us that we may be your light in this world.” Amen.

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Rev. Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer is President of the Alberta-British Columbia District of Lutheran Church–Canada.