52 Weeks: Week 2 Lighting the World

January 10, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Week Two of my 52 Week Challenge provided a lot of food for thought, as God's Word always does.  One passage that caught my attention in particular is one I memorized when I was young.  Maybe you did, too.  "You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14 - ESV).  Part of what caught my attention is the word "light."  If you read my week one post, you noticed with me how Jesus was called the Sunrise.  All throughout the first chapter of John and in dozens of other places throughout the Bible, He is pointed to as the Light of mankind leading us out of darkness. 

So here, in Matthew, as Jesus shares a set of core principles in what we have come to call the Sermon on the Mount, He looks at us and says, "You are the light of the world."  In that short sentence, He laid upon us as individuals a charge aligning with His mission.

He continues.

"A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." 

A bit over a year ago, I was in Pittsburgh for a conference.  I was staying in a hotel near the river walk and enjoyed stretching my legs along the waterway in the evenings.  Across the river was a ridge of hills that overlooked the place where I was staying.  A  number of buildings were perched right on the ridge silhouetted against the sky.  From almost any place I walked along the riverside below, I could look up and see the city.  Depending on the time of day, the buildings may stand as dark outlines against the fading light or as brightly lit spots of color as the first rays of daylight began to shine.  Either way, though, the hilltop city was in plain view.

So here we are, a simple point illustrated by a real place.

But there is more.

Notice the building on the left?  It is a church building of some sort.  I don't know what name is on the door, but judging from the crosses clearly seen on the steeple, I am guessing that the people that come together to worship in this building believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior.

Now here's where the artist in me wrestled a bit with the truth seeker in me.  Allow me to explain.  Even a year ago, while not thinking about the 52 Week Challenge, I was struck by the church building's silhouette against the sky and how the cross was so visible to the entire population below.  So the photographer in me captured images of this church building a number of times throughout the week from a number of different angles at different times of day.

Why does that matter?

Well, I like this picture best:

The church building set against the blue sky with the forest as its carpet just really stands out.  I like it. 

So what's the dilemma?

Jesus didn't say, "The church is the light of the world.  A church set on a hill cannot be hidden."  Although I would say there is truth there; it just isn't what He said here.

Here's what He said:  "You are the light of the world."  It's individual.  It's personal.  It is my charge as a follow of Him to be that light.  I can't put that off on the church, relegating it to the ministers, staff, church leaders, or ministries of the congregation.  "They should do something" has no place in this command from our Lord.

Here's the second part:  "A city set on a hill cannot be hidden,"  not just the church.  So, it's about you and me going about our daily lives in the cities or towns in which we live being a light.  It's not just about what happens in, around, or because of a formally structured gathering of God's people in a church facility. It's about my daily interactions wherever I am in the city, being the light for Jesus that cannot be hidden.

So, going back to my artsy challenge, the first picture in the post has a church building, yes.  And the work of the church is important and has a vital place in our lives as Christians.  But it also has some messier buildings perched alongside the church structure.  Places where people eat, sleep, work and interact daily.  Those other places are just as visible as the religious structure.  And so are we as we move throughout our day to day lives.  And sometimes daily life is messy.  It's easier to "clean up" for Sunday morning worship, but how do we go about our day to day interactions?  Are we light?  Daily?  That can be harder, messier.  Yet, the world needs Jesus daily.  We need Jesus daily.  He has charged us with spreading His Light. 

It's personal.

It's messy.

It's daily. 

You and me.

Let's light the world.

 


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