City of Light


Our small town lights shine at the end of the dark country road, letting me know home is just ahead. We don’t have an airport or supercenter; the brightest lights in town shine over the football field. Yet in the distance porch lights and streetlights are enough to light up the night.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world; “a city on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 6:14). I’ve often read this passage and thought of it in individual terms. I have my light and you have yours, and we all shine.

But I don’t think that’s exactly how Jesus meant it.

A city on a hill shines because there are many lights together in one place. A city’s brightness comes from its community. Many small lights shining together form a beacon of hope guiding the traveler home. That’s how it is for us as the people of God. Our power as the community of faith comes from our life together.

It’s easy to fall into thinking that we don’t need the church. We can watch sermons on cable and stream worship services online. We can share our prayer requests via blogs and message boards; study Scripture through online Bible studies and podcasts. The world’s best preachers and worship leaders are only a click away. These resources are a blessing, but they can also be a crutch. Let’s face it: church can be raw, painful, and messy. Sometimes it seems easier—neater—to engage in the virtual world and pull back from the task of working out our faith in relationship with people who are just as real and messy as we are. But that is one thing we must not do.

God calls us to pursue Christ in community, not isolation. Being the people of God means living life together. Can we learn the true power of forgiveness without forgiving and being forgiven? Do we know what grace looks like without giving and receiving it? There are blessings for the people of God we can only experience together, and cutting ourselves off from the body means removing ourselves from the corporate expression of God’s presence and power.

If we want to shine—if we want our light to be visible—we have to gather together as the people of God. Our light shines in our compassion and grace to one another. It shines when we find a unity that transcends race, age, class, and language—finding common ground in our common Savior. It shines when we confess our sins to one another, finding forgiveness and restoration in the family of God. And it shines when we pool our resources and gifts to light up our world.

A single candle can easily be snuffed out. But a city of light beats back the darkness. Let’s take the risk of being honest with each other and loving one another well. Let’s not just go to church—let’s be the church.

Let’s shine our lights. And let us do it together.

Image credit:  NASA

One Response to City of Light
  1. Linda Rozmen
    September 30, 2014 | 11:03 am

    Thank you for being so kind and sharing with us your thoughts. I’m glad you love here and go to church here on Winters!