A shining city on a hill. It sounds so beautiful. No wonder every Christian wants to imagine him/herself as a beacon of light shining and being aglow with faith and good deeds. And while “You are the light of the world” conveys all that beauty of light to a world in darkness, maybe it’d be good to acknowledge that light is also a means of communication, a signal.
We signal goodness which brings praise to our Father in heaven. Indeed, Jesus even says so.
Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
But when you stop to think about it, people didn’t build cities on hills to be beautiful. They built them on hills because it was the best defense and a good offense.
Jesus connected our light with being a city on a hill. Why? Visibility alone?
The Christian faith is simultaneously a gracious and beautiful invitation to salvation in Christ and it’s also a declaration of war against the devil and his schemes.
Christians are messengers of the King, running with the Gospel, and light from a city on a hill acts as a signal. It communicates encouragement for others to see and shine, it allows your light to go as far as possible, and it is the fastest way to send a signal far and wide that danger is near but salvation is nearer through Christ our King.
Fun fact of light: Warning Beacons. Warning fire beacons were great signal devices and have long been part of military communications. In The Early History of Data Networks by Gerard J Holzmann and Björn Pehrson of Harvard University, they discuss a crime problem and how
“[The] problem led to a decision by the early Babylonian kings to place royal guards at regular distances along the roads. These guards were originally intended only for the protection of travelers, but their presence led quite naturally to a number of major improvements in the messenger system. The first was the establishment of a relay system, where a message was passed from guard station to guard station, each time carried by a new runner. The second decision was to equip the guard posts with fire beacons, so that simple alarm or warning signs could be passed quickly from one end of the road to the other, without the need for a human runner.”
You may have seen something similar in the movie The Lord of the Rings as the Warning Beacons of Gondor. Or contemplated the origin of communication networks such as the smoke signal or Paul Revere’s “One if by land, two if by sea,” or the optical SOS Morse Code signal lamp/Aldis lamp. Light is more expeditious than sending a person when time is imperative.
For further thought:
How might your light from a city on a hill act as a warning beacon and signal that you’re a runner for the King?
Today, I’d like to introduce you to an app for your smartphone. My friends Gerard and Jeannie Long with Awakening to God ministries are spiritual runners, messengers for the King and beacons of light shining as far as the Internet can take them. Their nice little app has a big beacon impact of 8 minutes a day of Bible reading and reflection. Your purchase of this easily affordable app will go toward providing clean water, meals, mosquito nets, and medical services for the poorest of the poor in India. I bought the ATG Today app on the App Store and have enjoyed reading and journaling daily. Given that I’m always tempted to pick up my phone first thing in the morning, I might as well do it with something to help God’s light shine brightly within my soul and outside of my own little world as a signal that I belong to the King. Please purchase the app and spread the word about it too. We can be a network of spiritual runners, messengers, and beacons of light in the kind of relay that makes a worldwide impact. Thank you.
Lord Jesus, help us to always remember that You are King and the One True God. Grant that Your light would shine brightly within us as beauty of the Gospel invitation and also as a signal that salvation is near in Christ Jesus. Since Your return is near, let us shine brightly knowing that time is of the essence. Amen.