At the dedication of the temple. Solomon gave a powerful benediction. He praised the Lord God for His having kept His promises to Israel, but asked that the Lord continue to be with them. He acknowledged that it was God who would have to “incline” their hearts toward Him to walk in “all His ways” and that He would be the one to “maintain” their cause. But all of this had a purpose which went far beyond the well-being of Israel. That purpose? - “that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no one else.” In other words, it wasn’t about Israel receiving blessings, but about their being a blessing to the world as a witness to the existence and the goodness of the Lord God. The nations around them needed to see not only the blessings that came from serving the Lord, but the kind of people that serving the Lord caused them to be.
There is a complementary passage in the New Testament (Matthew 5:13-16) which teaches much the same for the followers of Jesus. In being “the salt of the earth,” Jesus’ disciples give help in difficult times, comfort in the midst of sorrow, relief in the throes of pain, hope when there is despair.
In addition, Jesus calls His people “the light of the world.” This would be light for a dark world, one which is lying in the shadows of deceptions and wickedness. It is a world filled with greed, theft, murder, lies, broken promises and crushed lives. It is a world which feeds on itself perpetuating its own ways.
In contrast, Christians exhibit a very different way of living. It is a way of trust, truthfulness, loyalty, hard work, kindness, respect, honor, compassion and love. The joy and peace found in Christ’s followers are a “light” to all the world that there is a better way. But that light is a light which is not generated by the Christian himself, but by Someone else. It is the light of Christ, the light of the Holy Spirit which shines through the man or woman of God to bring glory to the Father and witness to the world of a better way to live.