I have a challenge for you to consider. Jesus said: “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill” (Matthew 5:14).
What do you think of that paraphrase from “The Message“? The most common version you read is something this:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14)
The Message certainly makes it clear that Jesus was talking about far more than simply doing “ministry-stuff.” That’s right, it extends way beyond teaching, preaching or passing out tracts. Jesus was saying far more than, “You are a light.” He was saying, “You aren’t just a reflection of the light. You are not a mere conduit. You are the light itself! And the intensity of your light depends on the intensity of your walk with me.”
I am serious. Do you see what the Lord is implying here? The world will recognize anyone who walks closely with him. Your neighbors, your coworkers, your friends — and even your enemies — may not know about your daily communion with Christ, your faith in him, your utter dependence on him. But they do see the light that shines from you because of the life you have with him. And as long as nothing hinders that life, your light will continue to shine in the darkness!
Read it again as you would normally see it: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). Jesus is saying, “I have put you on exhibition to the world. People are looking at you because I have made you a spectacle. You are a light that is not meant to be hidden.”
Tell me, who do you see as being these lights set on a hill? Where do we see them? Are they the ones with “Jesus Love Me,” bumper stickers? What about those wearing “Jesus Saves,” T-Shirts? Or, are the ones who wear the White Collars, or dress in fancy clothes? Hmm . . .
As I see it, you won’t find them in the limelight. You won’t find them among the self-centered, self-promoting people who live for recognition in this world. And they are not among those self-important church cliques who pretend to be holy but gossip, murmur and complain.
The truth is that, through the years, I have seen many believers who appear godly but in truth are spiritually lazy. They tell others about their failings and weaknesses, thinking that will make them humble. Yet they are quick to judge others. They never (or rarely) possess the true, giving, loving servant-like spirit of Christ. On the contrary, the “light” they have is actually darkness. Jesus said, “If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness?” (Matthew 6:23). In fact, The Message renders this verse slightly differently:
“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. However, if you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!” (Matthew 6:22-23)
Ooh! I like that! “. . . where there is no life of Christ, there can be no light for others.”
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16).
The reason we are to let our light shine out to the world is so our God can receive all the glory! When you try to receive even a small portion of the glory, that is when the trouble starts.
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.