“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matt 5:14 (NIV)
I have heard many teachings on this parable spoken of by Jesus. Most of the teachings end with the campaign of, “go out and be that light!” Through further remarks, I have taken what they are saying to mean go out and find someone to minister to. However, I think Jesus had something different in mind. We have a hard time picturing being alone in the dark without a way to communicate. We are in the era of always being connected. I want to paint a different picture for you. My family and I live in an area that feels very suburban, but if you drive five minutes or so in some directions, you will find yourself out in the country. This happened to me one night a couple of months after we had moved here. I was lost on a country road, there were no houses, no cars and no moonlight. I was talking to my husband on my cell phone and the line dropped. I had driven myself right into an area with no service. Luckily, on that night I persevered, and kept driving and eventually found myself back with service. My thoughts on this verse brought me to that dark road and I wondered what would I have done if I had car problems? If I had to leave my car and walk, I would have traveled down that dark road looking for light, which would have meant help. I imagine walking and finally seeing that light of a house in the distance. Therefore, I imagine I would sit down and wait for that light to come and rescue me. What? No one in their right mind would do that, we would continue walking towards the light hoping to find help and rest. This is what Jesus was talking about, He never expected a lit city on a hill to come down with its light and rescue a wearied traveler. He knew, as do we that a city stays put and becomes a beacon for a wearied traveler. He never intended for us to run around as His light hoping to find a lost soul we could minister to. Being a city on a hill means staying put, doing what God has called you to do and shining your light. When someone comes knocking on your door, you open it and let them in. Staying put means going to work, doing your job, running errands all with the Holy Spirit. As you are out doing your life, people should see a difference in you and then be drawn to that part that makes you different, i.e. Jesus. It is when someone is drawn in, that we are able to minister. I have spent years feeling guilty because I didn’t work long enough with the homeless or telling my neighbors about Jesus among other things. What I am learning is that I need to do and say less, and be more. I need to be who I am, which is a child of God. In that “being,” I am that light of a city. What comes out of me is what God wants to come out of me. I don’t have to try to be something with actions that do not fit the situation (i.e. neighbors who are borrowing a rake and I’m stumbling over how he needs to be saved.) I can be comfortable with who I am and be open to questions about why I am the neighbor who will open my door and share my yard tools. The pressure is off and I can be who God created me to be. How about you? Why not relax and be yourself and let the light shine from inside you and stop trying to be the light running after people.
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matt 5:16