How Can We Be the 'Light of the World' When the World Loves Darkness?

Tessa Emily Hall

Contributing Writer
Published Mar 31, 2021
How Can We Be the 'Light of the World' When the World Loves Darkness?

It is evident, then, that Jesus Himself is the light of the world. In fact, it was prophesied in Isaiah 9:2 of the coming of Jesus’ light.

It only takes a moment for us to watch the news before we’re reminded of the dark world we live in. This darkness seems inescapable—it crawls into our government and school system, seeps into our entertainment, and captures the vulnerable with false promises of satisfaction and freedom. And while those who have been enraptured by this darkness appear to be relishing in its pleasures, the truth is, they remain trapped in its bondage. It’s often tempting for us to look the other direction, to allow the enemy to continue controlling this world. With so much evil lurking around every corner, it’s no wonder we often prefer to remain shut away, safe behind closed doors. And yet this is the opposite of what Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 5:14 when he told us to be “the light of the world.”

We have been equipped to pierce this darkness with our beams of light, just like Jesus did. But how is it possible for us to make an impact if the world seems more attracted to the darkness than the light?

What Does 'Light of the World' Mean?

The light we have received does not come from ourselves. We have received it from Jesus, and He has received it from the Father. This is the purpose by which God sent His Son: to dispel the darkness of this world and to offer us the invitation to walk in this light.

This is made apparent in John 8:12: Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, then we have His light abiding within us. We recognize the darkness for what it is: a trap. But those who have been gripped by its claws do not have this light; therefore, they remain blind.

I love the visual painted for us in Proverbs 4:19:

“But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over.”

Those who walk in darkness are blind to recognize this darkness for what it is. If they have yet to taste true freedom, then how can they know what they’re missing?

But when Jesus came, the light that He permeated into the world caused blind eyes to be open (literally and figuratively). People were drawn to His radiance because as humans, we are naturally drawn to the light—both physically (the sun) and spiritually (the Son). Jesus’ light allowed people a glimpse of the freedom they could receive if they followed Him. His light shone in stark contrast to the darkness that they were all too familiar with.

Now, those of us who have received this light in Christ are called to share it. Yet how can we do this unless we step into the dark places of this world?

Jesus emphasizes the importance of sharing this light in Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”

What Does the Bible Say about Light?

It is a scientific truth that natural darkness is the absence of light. Yet when the light enters, darkness has no choice but to flee, and that which has remained hidden becomes exposed.

These truths apply spiritually as well. According to the Bible, Jesus emanates light, and His light continues to illuminate this world and expose its wickedness. 

Take a look at how John 1:4-5 describes light:

“The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

This passage refers to the beginning of time when The Word—who is Jesus (see John 1:14)—breathed life into all of creation. And isn’t it interesting that, according to this passage, all of creation was birthed from the light of God’s life? Perhaps this explains why we are naturally drawn to this light.

Take a look at the verses that follow in 6-9:

God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”

It is evident, then, that Jesus Himself is the light of the world. In fact, it was prophesied in Isaiah 9:2 of the coming of Jesus’ light: 

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” We also know that His Word can broadcast Jesus’ light as well, according to Psalm 119:105:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” As a believer, it is impossible for us to live in God yet remain in darkness. Darkness and light do not mesh together. 1 John 1:5-6 says, This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.”

In the same way, it is also impossible for darkness and light to be unequally yoked with one another in terms of forming close bonds, according to 2 Corinthians 6:14“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?”

Keep in mind, too, that we cannot both live in God’s light while hating another believer, according to 1 John 2:9-9:

“If anyone claims, ‘I am living in the light,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness.”

Why Does the World Hate the Light?
Even though we are naturally drawn to Jesus’ life and light, those in darkness remain blinded by its stronghold. Because of this, they often cannot recognize this light for what it is. If they have yet to receive the light that can illuminate their darkness, then they do not yet know of what they are missing, in a sense, and the wickedness of their actions has yet to be exposed to them.

We need to remember that people have rejected Jesus’ light ever since He stepped on the earth. Take a look at John 1:10-11:

“He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.”

Everyone has been given the choice to either accept Jesus or to reject Him. Those who accept Him will be pulled out of darkness and into His “marvelous light” (see 1 Peter 2:9); those who reject Him will remain a slave to this darkness. With that said, if the darkness is their master, then Satan is their god—whether they realize it or not. He comes only to “steal, kill, and destroy” (see John 10:10). It only makes sense, then, that those who live for him and are influenced by him would hate the true light just as much as he does. Besides, isn’t it true that we become like the one we worship?

Satan is the one to blame for blinding the minds of those who walk in darkness, according to 2 Corinthians 4:3-4:

“If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

How Can We Be the Light of the World in a Dark World?

We are called to live in Jesus’ footsteps. His purpose for coming to earth was to impart this light to all who believe. We are to finish the ministry He began with His life, and this begins by allowing the light of His love to be evident within us. What better place to shine this light than into the darkness, just like Jesus did?

First, this requires that we abide in Christ. It is only as we abide in Christ by spending time with Him and reading His Word that we will walk in the light of His love.

Then, as we become more like Christ, our hearts will soften toward those who do not know Him. We will overflow with His love so much that we will long to share it with others, following the principle that Jesus gave His disciples in Matthew 10:8: “Freely you have received; freely give.”

We will begin to have the same longing Jesus has to see this dark world captivated by His light. We will look past how sinners appear to others and instead view them through God’s lens of love, seeing them as a sheep without a shepherd (see Matthew 9:36).

With this renewed perspective, the way in which we treat these unbelievers will fall into alignment with how Jesus-in-flesh treated them. This love will set us apart. And this love will become the vessel through which His light can shine.

However, if we fail to do this—if we refuse to love unbelievers—then they will not see any difference between us and the world. They will not be captivated by the light of Christ and, therefore, they will have no reason to step out of their darkness.

So what does it look like to spread His light?

It involves putting the needs of others above our own. It involves stepping out into the world and taking a bold stand for God and His principles, unashamed and unafraid. It involves living with an unearthly type of joy and peace that will attract others and cause them to question its source. It involves telling others about the Good News. It involves contributing our gifts to further His Kingdom.

If we carry God’s presence and live from His supernatural power, then this alone should serve as “evidence” of God’s light. 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 says,

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

God is waiting for us to step out of hiding. He is waiting for us to set this world on fire with the light of His love.

So let’s stop being in shock over the darkness that has infected this earth like a contagious disease; after all, didn’t the Bible warn us that this would occur?

Let’s stop complaining and remaining idle; instead, let’s do something about it, following this principle in Matthew 5:16:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Yes, this world is dark.

But thank God—He sent His Son to shed the light we so desperately need. Jesus imparted this light within us the moment we accepted Him as our Savior.

His light abides within us, and now the choice is ours: Are we going to keep this light all to ourselves? Or are we going to come out of hiding and illuminate this world with His love?

You may argue, “Yes, but I am only one person. I alone am not enough to dispel the darkness from this world.” That may be true.

But it only takes a single spark of flame to ignite a wildfire of love.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/ossyugioh

Tessa Emily HallTessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who wrote her debut novel when she was sixteen. She is now a multi-published author of fiction and non-fiction inspirational yet authentic books for teens, including her latest release, LOVE YOUR SELFIE (October 2020, Ellie Claire). Tessa's passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as a Literary Agent at Cyle Young Literary Elite, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of She is guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 128 WPM across the keyboard, she can speak to teens, teach at writing conferences, and act in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is to connect with readers on her mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website:

This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.

This Is the Day the Lord Has Made
Iron Sharpens Iron
Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Faith without Works Is Dead
Be Anxious for Nothing