In the recent Journal of Biblical Counseling Paul David Tripp writes an excellent article entitled Little Moments That Change the World. He begins the article by writing: When does radical makeover occur? The simple answer is this: Radical makeover happens when radical intervention meets radical need. If we are to have radical intervention to meet the radical needs of the world, we must know first the radical need, which means we must know our environment - this dark world.
Using Matthew 5.14-16, he characterizes darkness in two ways, the first being the darkness of foolishness. Psalm 14 says that "the fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" Tripp writes: There is nothing more foolish than living in the middle of the world that God created and not see God. What is and what happens display His glory. There can be no deeper irrationality than to deny Him, whether philosophically or functionally in your everyday experience. But we continue to deny him.
In Isaiah we read that the angels declare the whole earth to be full of the glory of God. The foolish heart denies God's glory and lives in darkness.
The second characteristic of darkness is the darkness of selfishness. Tripp again writes: If I don't see God's glory, if I am not magnetized by the greater glory of God, then there's only one other glory that will grip me. It's the glory of me, the glory of my life, the glory of my agenda. ... When we are absorbed in our own selfishness, it is possible to stand in the sea of human need and not see any of it. Just as we go blind to God, so we go blind to people.
Interesting insight from Tripp and a great challenge to remove the bowl and let our light shine. How easy it is to read this passage and apply it to our lives at a comfortable level. But for Jesus the challenge to His disciples was and is never about comfort. If it doesn't shock us or challenge us, we haven't understood Jesus' words. To let our light shine is to shine the glory of God the Father through Jesus in a dark world, in truth, in word and in deed. Matthew 5.16: In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.