Imagine being stranded in a dark and cold desert. Despite your extreme thirst and hunger, you keep walking across the miles of endless sand, hoping that you might reach somewhere. Finally, through blurry, tired eyes, you see light—it’s a city! The light you see means that you’ll be safe, nourished and helped. This is the metaphor that Jesus uses when describing the church. He says to us, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). We are lights that point to a place where there is comfort and help to all who have need. Our lives are meant to shine brightly so that others may come and find safety and refuge in the city of God through the gospel.
As Christians, we shine Christ’s light to the world through our service and witness.
To serve someone is to place his or her needs above your own. Jesus came “not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Though He could have come and demanded that people bow down before Him, Jesus preferred to kneel down and wash His disciples’ feet. He was a servant who met their physical needs. Even more than this, Jesus sacrificed His life to meet our ultimate need, salvation from Sin and reconciliation with God.
With Jesus as an example, we seek to meet the needs of those around us. Throughout Scripture, we are told to care for the poor, minister to widows and to help all who have need (James 1:27; 1 John 3:17-18). Some people need help financially; some need food, shelter or clothing; others just need some of your time and abilities. All of us can help people in need in some way. None of us are too poor, too busy or too weak to help others in some way.
We shine Christ’s light by our service to the world, and that will look different for each of us. You might volunteer at a homeless shelter, help mow a neighbor’s yard, visit a classmate who is sick in the hospital, spend time with an elderly family friend, etc., but all of these things are done sacrificially in the name of Jesus. By serving people and sacrificing our time and resources, we represent Jesus on earth and model the gospel for them.
The second way we shine Christ’s light to the world is by sharing the gospel with our words. We hear a lot about how we need to share our faith, but few of us actually do it. Many of us are nervous about what people will think if they knew we are Christians, and it keeps us from speaking to them about Christ. However, God has given us this extraordinary message, and we have the privilege and responsibility to tell people about it.
By serving others and pointing to the salvation of the cross, we represent Christ on earth and help the world to see Him. Just as the light from a city can show a desperate traveler where to find safety, our words and actions can guide people to the refuge they need.