Case in Point


This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Christian journalists are society’s light bulbs (Matt. 5:14-15)

Matt. 5:14-15. “you are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men.” (Eph. 5:8)
Luke 16:8. “people of the light.”
John 12:36. “so that you may become sons of light.” (1 Thess. 5:5)

Exegesis and Application

I first want to look at the teaching that Christians are the “light” of the world. The “you” in the teaching is a corporate “you.” That is, the individual Christian is not the object in the Biblical teaching but rather the Church, the body of Christ. So there is the Church’s responsibility to shine light in her environment.

Having said this, the application is always on the individual believer. Since Christians are the light of the world, the individual Christian is called to conduct himself in such a way. There is not corporate escape for the individual believer: since the light of Christ lives within each believer, each believer is required to shine that light each neighbor. Furthermore, this passage teaches the life of a believer must be transparent and open for all to see.

This Matthew passage (and its corollary passages) teach at least three lessons for the Christian journalist:

1) If you are a lamp then shine as a lamp and not as a piece of covered furniture. The room depends upon the lamp doing its job. The Christian is to act appropriately in the situation he finds himself. Matthew is teaching that the Christian is to act in a good way which is fitting and appropriate to a given situation. There are many Biblical passages which urge the believer to talk and act (i.e., write) in a prudent and appropriate fashion in a given circumstance.

2) It is critical for our neighbors that we do what we are called to do, that is shine as light givers in the world. As I state in #1, the world depends on the Christian to shed light on a given situation. To withhold the truth of the light is to doom our neighbor to darkness. As “sons of light” or “people of the light” we are in the midst of darkness and opacity. We are to counter the prevailing environment in which we find ourselves, even when we find ourselves alone in the darkness. As image bearers of Yahweh, we have an obligation to preserve the society in which he has placed us (Jer. 29:4-9; cf. Gen. 18:23f; Ezra 6:10; Is. 65:8; Ezek. 3:17f; 22:30; 1 Tim. 2:1-2). And our special preservative weapon of love as journalists is through the promulgation of the truth which lights up the world around us. Our neighbors deserve the truth because truth is essential to the power of understanding. And truthful understanding is essential to a life of satisfaction. Christian journalists are to be change agents of truth for error.

3) Our lives are to be transparent and not hidden, for everyone to see. And our reporting should be transparently honest and reliable (Is. 45:19; 48:16; John 18:20; Acts 26:26). This transparency obligation is universal for all Christians, but it is particularly pertinent for Christian journalists who have such public platforms from which to record the activities of a sovereign God and a sinful Man. Isaiah records God saying he not a dissembling or devious God, so we are not, as his children, to be obscure and inaccessible in our person or actions (i.e., writing).


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