You Are The Incandescent Light Of The World

Light bulb

As the powers that be continue their efforts to phase out the 60-100 watt incandescent light bulb, Phillips has released it’s latest award winning LED light-bulb, the Philips 10A19/LPRIZE-PRO/2700-900 DIM 10/1 – 420224 – 42022-4 (affiliate link). The switch to LED bulbs, over the ancient technology of the incandescent bulb, will potentially save the US hundreds of millions of dollars (add Dr. Evil voice here) in energy savings per year.

The problem with most LED light bulbs is they don’t convey the same “warm” feel that incandescent bulbs do, so many people have been reluctant to move toward the energy saving LED bulbs. I’m not advocating wasting energy—I’m just sayin’.

Of course, this made me start thinking about Jesus words from the sermon on the mount where he teaches the crowd that they are “the light of the world”, and how their light(s) shouldn’t be hidden, but put in a place for all to see.

Matthew 5:14-16

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.


This verse challenges me to think about all the different types of lighting, and how as followers of Jesus, at different times in our lives, we have been given the responsibilities and roles of different types of lighting.

The Spotlight

At times, as Jesus followers, we are called to be “spotlights.” A spotlight is used to point out wrongs and injustices around the world and down the street. This has been done well by organizations like IJM, but with the wrong methods and motivation it can also be done poorly by Christians who attempt to “expose” others. We have all seen, or read about, people who end up burning people, in the name of Jesus, with the spotlight—instead of trying to bringing light and healing into dark spaces.  This is a matter of motivation, right? Is my motivation to bring about change and healing or is to bust people for the sake of the law?

The Warning Light

At times in my ministry I have been the “warning light”, like a lighthouse, where I am trying to warn people against some of the poor decisions that I, or people that I know,  have made. The warning light attempts to warn others, in love, not to make the same mistakes that I have.

Directional Lighting

Sometimes my light is used as “directional lighting.” Directional lighting is where I am able to use my gifts as a teacher and communicator to help people see what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus in real life.  We have all been given the privilege, in humility, to direct people toward the grace of the cross.

Life Lighting

However, my favorite type of light is the incandescent bulb—slightly inefficient and yet warm and personal. You usually find these bulbs in living spaces (life lighting) and around tables built for conversation. Building relationships with people uses a lot of energy, and you never know how people are going to respond to that investment. All of us have invested in people who have “moved on” or taken advantage of that investment, but I would rather be that welcoming and mildly inefficient warm bulb than to emit the cold impersonal energy of the florescent light. (I’m not sure if florescent lighting has any redeeming qualities at all?)

The key to the imagery of the light is found at the end of verse 16.

“…that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Our light, whatever type it is, is designed to glorify God!

What other types of lighting have I missed? Be creative. What type of lighting do you like the most? Have you moved to the LED lights? Are you, or anyone you know, hording incandescent bulbs?

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Robinwfcva

    I think the CFL is the gift/light of service. Not glamourous, never to be lauded but necessary to get things done. The CFL person is the one doing the copying for teachers, mowing the lawn for someone who has a hard time doing it anymore, the person who takes the neighborhood kid who would otherwise not get to go… The CFL person is the one who you (or your group) miss when they move away, because you had no idea how mucg they did….

  • Barry Hill

    I LOVE IT! The acts of service that aren’t recognized enough! Behind the scenes type of stuff—why didn’t I think of that?

  • Barry Hill

    I LOVE IT! The acts of service that aren’t recognized enough! Behind the scenes type of stuff—why didn’t I think of that?

  • James Trent

    I like fluorescent bulbs. All you have to do is put a warm diffuser (like a lamp head) over them. Nice and warm.

    And yes, my dad has huge stacks of 100w incandescents in our basement!

    Of course, when I think of lighting I think of speed lights and strobes :). And reflectors! (like for outdoor portraits, they reflect the light of the sun). Reflectors are the people who reflect the Light of the Son, doing important things to shine light but not taking any credit! But like literal reflectors, that can’t do anything without the sun, these people can’t do anything without the Son.

  • Barry Hill

    James, WOW! I love the reflector lights, and the fact that their only power comes from the sun is awesome. Not to mention that the sun can be shining—but if they are not in the right position, or angle, then they are not going to the reflect the light. I think there is a lot of time where I am the wrong spot/attitude/position to reflect the light—but the light is still shining!
    Thanks, James!

  • al

    It would have been interesting to see you weave a “trip the light fantastic” or “skip the light fandago.”
    Oils lamps were often placed in front of mirrors, where they seemed to give off twice the light.
    And windows have lites/lights through which light may pass–but that would be a tough one.
    enough lite fare from me.

  • TCAvey

    you put a great deal of thought into this post- good job, Impressive!

    I hate LED lights, period.

  • Barry Hill


    Thanks for the comment and encouragement! I’m with you— I have florescent lighting in my office at Church and I need to find a way to alter them somehow! Not to mention that I am stuck in a basement—no natural light at all—ahhhhh!

  • TCAvey

    I need the natural light, not sure how you are surviving (wink).

  • Barry Hill

    Loved your last post on lessons from dumping your coffee!

  • Barry Hill

    Al, I love oil lamps! There is something so…. natural about them that really centers me.

    Aren’t these both dancing references? “trip the light fantastic” or “skip the light fandago.” Any dancing that I did would certainly make people run and hide!

  • TCAvey

    Thanks! As a coffee drinker you can appreciate the sacrifice, (wink). God bless,
    TC Avey

  • Joshua

    Well, LED lights are often like Christians that try to preach the Gospel without warmth and love. That’s what came to my mind.

    Awesome post! Love the allegories as normal :)

  • Barry Hill

    Thanks Josh,

    I can say that I have definitely had occasions where I did not share the gospel in love— and I came off very florescent and cold. Thanks for your encouragement!

  • Tony

    Regarding the Warning Light, sometimes it is better to dim that light, so that someone learns the lesson first-hand. As a parent, it is a natural instinct to step in front of your children and intercept life’s arrows. But I will not always be here, so at a certain point, as long as no actual harm results from it, they need to discover their own ability to deal with those issues, while still knowing that you are there to support and love them. It is painful to stand by and watch, yet seeing them grow and learn from what you have spent a lifetime teaching them is priceless.

  • Barry Hill

    I think you are 100% right. There are some lessons that can only be learned by going through them, and we have all been there! And, you are right! watching your children go through something like that is incredibly difficult.

  • Grace

    Motion sensored lights…they turn on as you pass by so you may see and find what your looking for. These people are always there by your side when you are looking for help as to which way to go or when you can’t find something. Their light shines on you to help you shine yours in the right places.

  • Barry Hill

    I love it. I love those people who always seem to be there at the right time. I know a few people who have that built in sensor—almost like they can feel whe a friend is in need and can “shed a little light.”

    Thanks, Grace!

  • Mariella

    Such an awesome post! This is one of my favorite verses, and you’ve motivated me to crack open my Bible and read that inspirational passage again!

  • Barry Hill

    You GO! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, and thanks for your nice words!

  • Jennifer Hamilton

    Barry, I discovered you through Michael Hyatt’s website. So glad I did. The “ordained barrista” originally sparked my interest, but your thoughtful posts, and the interaction going on here, certainly confirmed to me what a lighthouse this site is! God bless you in this wonderful ministry.

  • The Ordained Barista

    Thank for your kind words and encouragement! It’s so great to have you as part of the community!