“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” – Matthew 5:14
There is a question that haunts me. I find myself asking it again and again at various stages of my life and ministry. Sometimes this question is fueled by a selfish ambition and other times it’s a genuine desire to glorify God. I’m not embarrassed to confess this, because I believe you may struggle with this as well. The question is one of impact. The question I ask is … “Am I making a difference?” Can people see God shining through me? Are people noticing me? Or are they noticing the God who is working through me?
Have you ever been blinded by a light turned on in a dark room? You have no problem noticing the light. Correct? The interesting thing about light is that it doesn’t really have to “work” for it to be noticed. The photons that gather to form light are just being what they were made to be. They are noticed because their identity is light. They don’t have to work harder to be light – they already are. Light has one unmistakable property – it repels darkness. The same is true for the Christian. Understanding our identity is crucial to fulfilling our mission.
The difference we make comes from a proper understanding of identity. If I focus on “shining for God,” then it becomes a self centered quest. If the question develops into God “shining through me” then it’s a God centered vision. Because of the gospel I have been declared to be the “light of the world.” This light does not originate from me, but it comes from God. My life is evidence to a dark world that there is hope. When I understand my role in reaching my community, people are pointed toward God. The difference that I make to those around me is an overflow of the impact of the gospel within my heart. The only light that shines from my heart is the light that emanates from the glory God receives from a transformed heart. He called me, saved me and changed me! The difference in me is noticeable because the power of the gospel is creating me to become more like Jesus everyday.
Let’s go back to that room in which we found ourselves temporarily blinded. The light has been turned off and our eyes are being forced to adjust to the new darkness. The absence of light quickly becomes obvious to all. I began to think through this concept in regard to our church. Do the people in our city know that there is a light shining? If our church ceased to exist today would anyone notice? It is only natural to notice that light is missing.