This is the second post in a series; in part 1, Annie discussed what it means to be a “light to the world.”
Your words matter. How you speak to those around you makes a bigger difference than you could ever know.
In Matthew, Jesus tells us four ways we can be a light.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” — Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
We already discussed what it is to be a light to the world, but what does it mean to be a city on a hill?
To be a city on a hill, we have to speak love to our community. That’s what Edinburgh Castle does right in the heart of the capital of Scotland—it is a beacon for the whole city, for the ones who live right there. When all is dark, there it proudly sits atop the Royal Mile, lit on every corner, giving a reference point to anyone in view.
A city requires more than one light. It’s interesting how Jesus listed these, because again- just like with the light of the world—He’s showing us that we matter in a bigger story than just our own. We have to shine together, work together, speak love together, in order to be a city lit up for the benefit of those in the dark.
Nothing infuriated me in college like street preachers on our campus. It bothered me how they yelled and screamed justice and law and seemingly forgot grace. But what they caused, every semester, was a buzz on campus, a flicker of light. Unbeknownst to us (and maybe even to them), their judgmental statements always ended up allowing the rest of the Christians on a non-Christian campus to shine together, like a city on a hill, and stand up for grace.
It can look like that to be a city. It can also look like teaching Sunday School at your church or coaching a soccer team. It can be speaking up for the less fortunate in your area and helping to see them provided for. Your words can impact your community, and as you band together with other believers, you become an integral part of a city on a hill.
Annie Downs is an author who loves helping young people—especially teen girls and young women—overcome the challenges that life puts in the way of their spiritual development. Her most recent book is Speak Love. Follow Annie at her blog, or on Facebook and Twitter.