Being the light of the world, like being the salt of the earth, describes the broad social impact of disciples who embody the Beatitudes. As we explored yesterday, serving as the salt focuses on everyday lived experiences. Being the light of the world is ultimately an act of truth telling that prompts change.
Light Exposes What Darkness Hides
Let me start with an analogy. While I am getting better at it, I am not particularly good at everyday household tasks like cleaning. Now, I do not live in filth, but I tend to not notice things like cobwebs in a corner or dust building up. But it is not until something draws my attention that I notice and act.
So a couple months ago I replaced a couple of light bulbs in my kitchen. The new bulbs are bright! They are so bright, I no longer turn on the kitchen lights first thing in the morning. But when I turned them on the first time, they exposed those cobwebs in the corners. Moreover, I saw just how much dust sat on any edge where it could gather.
Compelled to act I pulled out the Dust Whisperer I recently acquired from the Grove Collaborative (affiliate link). If you are not familiar with them, Grove is a Certified B Corporation. Being a B Corp means that they run business in a way that is good for people, animals, communities, and the planet. The thing the first caught my attention is that all of Grove’s household products are plastic neutral. Then I got excited that they offer toilet paper and paper towels made out of bamboo.
Anyway, moments later, those cobwebs and the dust were gone. But I had more to do. I proceeded to check out other rooms in the house. While there were no bright lights in those corners, I was now attuned to the problem and set out to fix it everywhere.
Light in the Prophetic Tradition
This everyday experience of me cleaning echos what God said through the prophet Isaiah:
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.Isaiah 42:6–7, NRSV
Did you catch that? A light to the nations to open the eyes that are blind. And the result of this newfound sight, is freedom for the imprisoned. So how does living the Beatitudes light up the world?
Being the Light of the World
A moment ago as I talked about my Grove Dust Whisperer, I am guessing it sounded a bit like an infomercial. And while if you are curious I so have a referral link in the show notes, that really is not the point. Rather, I did it to highlight one way followers of Jesus should mourn the injustice committed by corporate America.
Supply side economics combined with unfettered capitalism is bad for people, animals, communities, and the planet. It only serves those in corporate leadership and shareholders. The past forty years reveal trickle-down economic theory an abject failure. Wages of everyday people are stagnant. The middle class is disappearing. The wealth gap continues to expand. And both of our major political parties facilitate the corporate assault on everyday people.
People who embody the Beatitudes can and should point this out. This is not based on some meritocratic right, but the construction of a system designed to benefit the few at the expense of the many. And while this societal injustice effects all people, it is most oppressive toward people of color, especially women of color.
Knowing Better, You Can Do Better
While B-Corps are not perfect and I am a fan of one of their biggest critics (affiliate link), they do attempt to address some of these issues. This is why I personally cancelled Amazon Prime and replaced them with services like Grove and Misfits Market (affiliate links). I also go out of my way to shop at locally owned small businesses. I do not care how many Walmarts I pass on the way there.
That is all part of mourning injustice. It is about the direction of meek anger. A pure heart refuses to overlook corporate atrocities just because they engage in some symbolic charity work. Never mind that their charity pretends to fix problems created by their own shoddy business practices. Peacemakers insist that society at all levels work for the thriving of everyone.
But sometimes, before you can fix a problem, you need to expose it. That is what it means to be the light of the world.
This post is part of an ongoing series. Link here for a list of every episode in this series.