“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.” (Matt 5:14-16)

These verses from Matthew have been on my mind for some time. Back in January, I heard Kristian Stanfill sing ‘Not Ashamed’ at the Passion conference, a rousting song that slows down right at the end to proclaim:
“We’ll be that city on the hill
Burning brightly
We’ll be a light to the world
Shining Your glory”

‘Not Ashamed’, Passion

In February, I heard LZ7 sing ‘This Little Light’ (‘This Little Light’, LZ7), reminding us of Jesus’s command to ‘let your light shine before others’.

More recently, I have been listening to Casting Crown’s haunting song ‘City on the Hill’, which looks at what happens when we do not obey Christ’s command but fight amongst ourselves instead:
“You see, the poets thought the dancers were shallow
And the soldiers thought the poets were weak
And the elders saw the young ones as foolish
And the rich man never heard the poor man speak.”

The song goes on to remind us that it is in the diversity of the church that strength can be found:
“It is the rhythm of the dancers
That gives the poets life
It is the spirit of the poets
That gives the soldiers strength to fight
It is the fire of the young ones
It is the wisdom of the old
It is the story of the poor man
That’s needing to be told.” (‘City on the Hill’, Casting Crowns)

‘City on the Hill’, Casting Crowns

All of these songs were in my mind as I stood at the top of Montmartre last week, looking out over the spectacular views of Paris. We had climbed the 300 steps to the dome of Sacré-Coeur and were rewarded with views like these:

Sacré-Coeur is an amazing basilica, well worth visiting in its own right. But ‘a town or city on a hill cannot be hidden’. Just as from that church we could see all of Paris, so too, the next day when we were at the opposite side of the river standing on the top of the Montparnasse Tower, the church itself could not be hidden:

These amazing buildings make Jesus’s words seem very plain. Light cannot be hidden. But we can try to hide it, squabbling amongst ourselves or hiding the light under a bowl. What we need to do is let Christ’s light shine from within so that others can see Him. Then we can be a light to a world that’s desperately in need, shining Christ’s glory.