“Am I a City set on a Hill?”
Note from host Philip Shields: This is a blog written by a dear friend of mine – Jason Cartwright in Florida. I’m encouraging more of you who come to this website to contribute messages in these blogs too. Here’s Jason.
Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden”, Yeshua says.
What would such a city look like? What would such a life look like?
Since this passage is in context of each of us being a light, and standing out, presumably in the dark, it only makes sense that we are to picture seeing the lights of a city at night; perhaps from a distance.
Also of note: cities during that time were commonly built atop hills.
1) This made the cities easier to defend
2) This made it easier to spot approaching enemies.
3) This also made the city more visible, especially at night.
Picture such a city set on a hill at night. It would be very noticeable in the dark. Even from many miles off, its lights could be seen.
So how does this relate to us? Why would our Savior say we are, in effect, by our lights – a city set on a hill?
Consider what such a city, with all its light, would mean to travelers in the night.
1) A city on a hill might draw travelers in, even during the night.
- i) Perhaps the city is a destination for them. A place to settle.
When we think about us, as a group, when people come visit our holy sabbath convocation, are our lights so present and welcoming that they might very well feel like they've found "home"? (A place where they feel welcomed, loved, and desirable to worship in?)
- ii) Perhaps it is a place to rest and be refreshed (from their journey through the dark lands outside)
Ask yourself: “when people come to me, can they get a spiritual recharge? Again, do I make them feel welcome and accepted? I’m not looking at what they've done, but how God is working with them; Who they are as part of God's Family. Can they "rest" and be relaxed, with me? When they leave my presence, will they leave feeling encouraged and refreshed?
It is interesting to note that though they were in the presence of perfect holiness and righteousness, there was something about Yeshua that even the worst of society felt at ease in his presence. Go back and read Luke 15:1-2. It was in this context that we receive his greatest parables and teachings.
iii) Maybe a place to get supplies for their continued journey.
We can serve others, and thus allow them to continue on. There are many ways to serve: Giving of our time, money, expertise; listening to people and their issues; a sincere hug, cooking a meal, visiting the sick, and many, many more. Often even the smallest acts of kindness can make a world of difference in another's life, helping, or even inspiring them to keep going.
- iv) A shining city on a hill (us) could means a job opportunity; a place for them to further their education and training.
Am I ready to teach (especially by example)? Am I ready to give answers and give sound, spiritual wisdom from the bible? And am I ready to do it in a loving and non-judgmental way? Can people come to me and learn by example or by word the ways of God?
- v) Perhaps it is a place to take refuge; A safe place. (From enemies, or simply from life's bad weather/storms of life)
Proverbs 18:10 "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe."
Am I a place where one could come to in time of crisis? Am I reliable and ready to help someone who is under attack from the devil? (To do this, I too must be aware and vigil, and close to God, and also ready to be instant in prayer) Am I someone people can trust and depend upon for spiritual warfare? This is a war that we live, daily. Am I ready to help others do battle? (I need to be putting on the Armor of God every day to do this) Can I help others put on their armor, and also be vigil?
- vi) It could be a place they are bringing their burdens to.
Am I someone who can actively listen and pay attention to others?
Maybe I cannot help take their burdens, but am I someone they could come and at least help lighten their load by being someone they could talk to, and to pray for them and with them? Can I be a person trustworthy to confide in, and bring God into the picture to show them how He is working all things out for good, even when it seems/feels contrary?
vii) People coming in from the darkness outside, are now in the light of the city, just like with Christ.
John 8:12 "Then Jesus spoke to them saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in darkness but have the light of life."
There was a noticeable difference between Yeshua and the world and yet most people felt comfortable in his presence. The only ones he really spoke against were the hypocritical religious leaders.
Do others see the difference between me and those in the world? Even if they don't like it, are they aware that I am not like others? Are they aware that we live differently and behave differently and speak differently from the world? When they look at me...do the see Christ's example? Is my life glorifying God?
viii) Travelers passing by could make camp or safely travel by outside the city, within its light (a guide)
I must always be a "safe" person; trustworthy and willing to protect others. People should be able to trust me with anything. Their money, their confidence, their family or their business. There should be nothing in my life that makes them question my integrity and therefore their safety with me (once they know me, the new creation in Christ).
2) The city on a hill, with this bright lights (and high placement) might be a warning
- For those with ill intent, it might be a warning to stay away. The brighter the light, the more lights there are, the more people (and things of value); the stronger (and larger) the city. Remember Yeshua said those with ill intent seek out the darkness and won’t come into the light.
- There is a cool quote that I really like (paraphrasing):
The devil whispered in my ear, "You are not strong enough to withstand the storm." I yelled back, "I am a child of the ALMIGHTY Father God; I am a man of the faith, and a warrior of Christ the Conquering King! I am the storm with Christ!"
It is a cool quote, but we know that the devil does not fear us. However, he does flee from us when we resist him. (James 4:7), as we call upon CHRIST'S strength (Philippians 4:13). This also applies to those who are of Satan’s mindset and who wish ill, or wish to instill doubt or cause divisions. They too, will flee.
When we put on the armor of God, and we wield the sword of Truth, we can wage spiritual warfare against evil, against the wiles of the devil.
- Alternatively, an enemy might view the city as more of a threat to them, and therefore, seek to attack and destroy it.
The devil doesn't like seeing strength and light from God's people. Being a light standing out in the dark, or a "city on a hill" often makes us a target. The devil HATES Godliness and its effects upon others. He will try to bring such a one exhibiting those characteristics down. But... if the city's walls are high, and it is well lit...the light will shine bright and expose what is in the darkness. The light will expose the enemy and his attacks and methods of attack. LIGHT REVEALS TRUTH.
Also, such a city's watchmen would see the enemy coming because of the light pouring forth from the city. God is the city’s ultimate defense. Psalm 61:3 "For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy."
3) A city set on a hill might simply be a point of reference in a traveler's journey. (Remember, YOU are the city on the hill)
- i) The city may show them where they are in life; perhaps even causing them to desire to alter their course or change their destination.
Perhaps the interaction with me will be brief, but in that moment, what will they see if given the opportunity to either show Christ or blend in? Will I stand out? Will I exhibit patience, kindness, mercy, love, giving, truthfulness, joy, peace, meekness, etc., and thus, merely by example, perhaps inspire them to look at their own life, and consider? (Maybe even make changes...) Even making a small change for good...is still good! But you never know... God can use us to call others to Him. Is my example noticeable enough to cause someone to want to make changes in their own life?
- ii) The city may simply be a "marker" or "landmark."
Our example, our light, may be something familiar, or just simply be one day remembered as a "marker" along their journey; Something they merely pass by...but that one day, they will recall that "city" (YOU, your life), and how bright and strong it was. Who knows how or when people might recall an interaction with you and your family or even your congregation – and that memory helps God to put them on the right path?
What do I need to be this city set on a hill?
Whatever the case, if we are to be a city set upon a hill, we need to have the following:
First and foremost, have a relationship with God, seeking first His Will, His Righteousness, and His Kingdom (Matt. 6:33)
Have our lights shining brightly for all to see. (Not blending in with the rest of the world (the dark surroundings)
Have our light of truth exposing the enemy outside.
Have high walls and watch towers (God and His Word)
Be a person that is also welcoming; a "place" where even sinners can find love (as an action, like Yeshua did)
Be ready to serve and provide as a good city would.
Be ever an example of Yeshua, the Savior of mankind, and His love and ways to live life righteously.
And never...Ever...hide or try to blend in to the surroundings....the world and its dark ways.
It doesn't matter if you (your life) are a great big city, or a small city. If you are a city set on a hill, obvious in the day, bright and shinning in the night... you cannot be hidden.
And that is something Christ is telling us we need to be: "For you are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”