We always build lighthouses at the far edge of safety. It might be more comfortable to station them inland, but it’s out there, where the wind blows, that lives need rescuing. A lighthouse’s duties can be challenging in the best of times, but will be most arduous when conditions are worst.
The light in its tower isn’t for illuminating its interior. It’s for piercing obscurity, for turning on when darkness descends and storms arise. Neither does its foghorn trumpet for the keeper’s entertainment, but to cut through fog, to raise an alarm, to guide the lost.
This begs a comparison with our lives as believers, of course, but there’s more. Consider how we’ve managed to increase lighthouse effectiveness over the years.
Initially, lighthouses were lit with whale-oil lamps whose glow barely cut the fog. Later, the light was increased by several thousand watts as incandescent bulbs took the place of lamps. Still, the beam couldn’t reach more than a few miles out to sea. Not until 1822 was there a way to send a shaft of light all the way to the horizon. That’s when Augustin-Jean Fresnel had the clever idea of surrounding the bulb with an orderly system of prisms.
One thousand pieces of glass were ground into prisms of particular dimensions and set in array around the central bulb. Though they didn’t actually emit illumination, each prism was called a “light.” Precisely arranged, they magnified the central beam into a million-candle-power shaft that extended twenty miles across the sea.
A Light Made of Lights
The body of Christ operates in a similar system. Jesus called Himself the Light of the world in John 9:5, yet He gave His disciples the same label in Matthew 5:14.
Like that central bulb in the Fresnel lens, Jesus is the actual source of light, but we are lights too—arrayed around Him like prisms letting His goodness shine through us. The more we’re willing to submit to our lighthouse keeper’s polishing, the more distortion free Christ’s image will shine through our lives. Yet we don’t shine alone–the more we allow Him to adjust our position with the other lighthouse prisms, the greater His light will be magnified and the farther it will reach.
Unlike the lighthouse bulb, the glory of God is bright enough all on its own to shine into every dark corner of the world. Yet He has determined to make us an indispensable part of His plan and has given us a role in magnifying His glory.
Alone, we are as limited in reach as those early lighthouses fueled by whale-oil. Together, we become a beacon guiding ships to safe harbor. We are the light of the world—the hope of the Lord made visible in the darkest times. Let us stand together and cast His light to the farthest horizon so those still tossing in the waves can see the real Light of the world.
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden (Matt. 6:14 NKJV).