“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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 Matthew 5:14-15
This is one of the passages of scripture that’s known even by people who don’t know it originated with Jesus. In our time, it was paraphrased in a 1989 speech given by President Ronald Reagan as he departed office. He used it to describe the United States as he envisioned it, encouraging his fellow Americans to look at our country’s future in the same way. His speech harkened back to a well-known 1630 sermon from John Winthrop, in which he exhorted his fellow pilgrims, on their way to the New World, to remember that the eyes of the world would be on them as they moved to a new land to live out their faith in the Lord.
Knowing this, consider why Winthrop and Reagan said what they said. They echoed the words of Jesus, who originally spoke them to tell His followers that they are a light for all the dark world to see. Like a shining, gleaming city build on top of a hill, with lights beaming and walls glistening, the people who put their trust in God are providing light, hope, and inspiration to millions of people who don’t have any. It is the faith, the way we know God, that will draw people towards that light.
Just as a candle in a dark room provides focus, so does shared faith in Jesus draw the focus of people gnashing in the dark world. When people see light, they can either cover it or they can go to it. Unless we don’t want to be seen, or unless we have something we don’t want seen (a sin perhaps), you and I are drawn to light, warmed by light, illuminated and brightened and defined by light. When we walk into a dark room, it’s almost an instant reflex to turn on a light. We reach for the wall switch, or the pull chain, or turn on a flashlight, or light a candle or lighter or torch.
We as people need the light. Our bodies react to it, refining vitamins, scouring disease, and accepting warmth. We weren’t meant to be perennially in the dark. We need the light.
You know what that means. We need the light of Jesus, even the folks who don’t know it, or who reject Him. Ignorance or rejection don’t change the fact of needing the light only He can provide. And, in our world, He provides His light by shining it through us: His salty followers whom He chose to save so we could share His words. Thanks for the reminder, Mr. President.
For more reading: Mark 4:21, Luke 8:16, Luke 11:33, John 8:12, Matthew 5:16
Lord, shine Your light through me today. Let me shine it to others.