A City on a Hill
You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.
As I previously mentioned, I spent 7 days in Vegas a couple of weeks ago. Vegas, suffice it to say, is not my favorite place to be in this world (particularly where I was: the strip). Everywhere is a casino and it seems that the big seven sins are glorified (particularly greed, lust, envy and pride). Everywhere you go in fact, it seems that they are thrown in your face. It was quite meaningful then to read and meditate on the above verses.
You see Las Vegas (both physically and metaphorically) is the “city on a hill” that the world presents. It epitomizes everything the world holds dear and glorifies everything Christ doesn’t. Physically it’s a wonder to behold. The strip is lit as bright as day at night due to all the lights (as evidenced in the picture). The Luxor Hotel shoots an incredibly bright spotlight up to the heavens even (visible in the center of the picture). Metaphorically, we need look no further than its bold proclamation “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!” It appeals to all of our base and dark emotions as humans: the greed to get more and more from the casino machine, the lust to do what we want — see what we want — however we want, and the pride to know that its all OK here, to name just a few things.
It was both encouraging and emboldening then to read this passage (in the light of the surrounding Sermon on the Mount) and to know that this isn’t at all what the city of God is. To know that it shines brighter than anything the world can throw at it is so encouraging. Regardless of how bright the strip of Vegas seems to be in the darkest night — it’s all artificial and is nothing compared to God’s kingdom. And it’s incredibly emboldening to know that we can (and are) to walk in this light, shining before everyone that we meet regardless of where we are.
And so — this simple truth, that my life shines before people in contrast to the artificial light that the world produces, became my prayer throughout my days in Vegas. I don’t pretend perfection but I was able to have several encouraging encounters with folks. I would commend any one reading to contend as well for a life that shines brightly and in contrast to the light the world produces.
Written after one of my trips to Las Vegas