It’s what they say will sell houses, but here Jesus is pushing our location as the way He wants to bring light to the world. Once again, this verse is not about what we do as much as it is about where we are. Get out where your light will make a difference. Be a city on a hill. Come out of hiding.
I once heard about a plan to build a huge state-of-the-art medical center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, staffed entirely with Christians. From doctors down to janitors and parking lot attendants, everyone working there would be a Christian. Think about the healing that could be offered in such a place. Think about the brilliant light that place would put out to the surrounding community with all those Christians in one place!
But then think about who would go there, and you soon realize that, for the most part, the patients would be Christians too. Such a place might be just a little too creepy to the unbeliever. How quickly it would become a safe haven for Christians. No one would ever have to be confronted with anyone different than themselves. You can easily see how quickly such a place would be not a place to encounter the world, but to hide from it.
Years ago I was privy to a private study on the best customers to some of the most successful Christian bookstores in the country — who they were and why they went there. The results were overwhelming. They were all Christians, and they went to the Christian bookstore to escape the world. They completely trusted the store to provide only that which was good for them, and they stayed as long as they could, because they felt safe there. If they bought a book while they were there, it wasn’t to read it; it was their price of admission for the experience of being in a safe place.
Both the hospital and the bookstore are examples of what happens when we get around too much light. You might think all that light would have a great affect on the culture, but in fact, the opposite is true. The same goes for Christian music, television, schools and such. They become not places to influence the culture as much as to hide from it. It’s like hiding in the light. There’s so much light around you, you don’t even have to worry about shining. Your little light hardly makes a difference anyway.
The whole point of being the light of the world is to bring light into the darkness. No wonder that hospital never came to be; God wanted all those doctors, nurses, janitors and parking attendants spread out all over the surrounding cities and towns where their lights would mean something, because it would be dark without them.
Are you in such a place? Then rejoice; you are where you should be. Your light is going to shine just by being there.