"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”
(Matthew 5:14-15 ESV)
I’ve never had a desire to stand out. I’ve never desired to be the focus of attention. I prefer, instead, to blend in. I desire to go unnoticed. And this desire has reflected itself in many ways.
It’s reflected in the way that I dress. I’ve never cared for bright colors. I’ve never cared for flashy clothing or accessories. I don’t like wearing things that will make me stand out or draw attention to myself.
Even though I’m a pastor, I tend to be more quiet and soft-spoken. I don’t like to speak loudly, drawing attention to myself. And I certainly don’t like to shout. I tend to speak few words and, when I do speak, to say them in a normal tone of voice.
Even though my position requires me to be up front in the church, this isn’t the position I normally choose. If attending a worship service that I’m not leading, or when attending a conference, I tend to sit somewhere in the middle. I prefer to simply blend in with the crowd.
And even though I do what I can to fulfill my calling, I have no desire to be a well-known figure. I have no desire for fame. I prefer to live the quiet life.
I’m not alone in this preference to go unnoticed. Many people feel the same way. And, so often, this mindset finds its way into our life of faith.
We know that Jesus has called us to be his witnesses. We know that he’s called us to proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. And, quite frankly, we’re hesitant to do this. We’re hesitant because we don’t want to be the focus of everyone’s attention. We prefer, instead, to keep our mouth shut and blend in with the world around us.
In the past, this is something that’s hindered my witness. It’s kept me from reaching out to those around me. My desire to blend in caused me to shove any concern for the lost to the back of my mind as a desire for conformity took hold.
However, as we see in the above passage, we’re called to stand out. We are the light of the world. And a light is not something that is hidden.
As the people of God, we’re distinct from the world around us. But we’re distinct not to draw attention to ourselves. We shine forth to draw the world’s attention to Christ.
We’re called to be distinct as a testimony to those in our midst. We’re called to let our light shine that God might be glorified. We’re called to be his witnesses that others might receive the salvation Jesus provided for all men.
This doesn’t mean we have to be a loud mouth. It doesn’t mean that we must be obnoxious. But we must not hide our light in order to fit in. Doing so means abandoning a lost world to sin and eternal condemnation.