“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. … In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 5:14, 16 (ESV)
I slouched down in my chair in English class in high school as my teacher called me out by name and said words I have never forgotten: “The purpose of life is not to be happy, but to matter (and make a difference).”
I did not know he was paraphrasing Ralph Waldo Emerson. But Jesus touches on this as well when He tells us the purpose of our life in Matthew 5:14-16. However, what matters to Him is eternal. Our identity and purpose in life is to reflect Him — to show the way, to give warmth, to instill confidence, to lift spirits, to direct movement, to attract others, to clear confusion, to signal existence, to build community, to make other efforts possible. These are the things the Light does.
But why a “city” and one “on a hill”? Christians form an elevated community to do all of the above Light-traits as a group, family, body, church, army. By shifting metaphors, Jesus is amping us up — really putting us out there. For we are not to shine solely in our closets in life (v. 15), but to intentionally be seen by the world around us. It is not our option to hide in self-proclaimed shyness.
A city cannot conceal itself in darkness, withdraw from its clime, or quit being seen. Our work, our purpose in life, is to attract others to join us in glorifying God through shared goodness and good deeds. This is larger than you, but you are a key part of it! We are saved to be seen. This is part of our “going” into all the world to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).
We are a city — not a farm, bedroom, cave or field. We gather for security, we go out for service. Safety, community, protection, families, networking, communication, worship, growth — all are found inside the city.
So go! Let your Light shine.
— Terry Boesch
If you would like to submit a devotional, please email all submissions to