“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)
When we think of going deeper, we are often actually dreaming of going higher. We equate spiritual depth with a spiritual high. So we seek a deeper relationship with Jesus and imagine it will result in an elevation of ourselves—lifting us up above the fray of struggle and difficulty.
Where did we get that idea? Partially, it comes from a consumer Christian model that promises this depth and height as a two-for-one deal’the closer you get to Jesus, the further you get from hardship. Or so the marketing department says. It also comes to us by virtue of our humanity. This is the oldest temptation, replayed again. There is another way, it whispers, and it includes a shortcut around surrender.
This manner of thinking has a subtle and seductive way of refocusing the spotlight. It edges us and our own needs and dreams and fears out onto center stage. Like the former celebrity willing to stoop to nearly any level of indignity for fifteen more minutes of attention, we impulsively look for ways to rise up, rather than lay down our lives. We want to make Jesus famous. But we secretly hope he will return the favor.
You are the light of the world, Jesus says. But don’t get it twisted. The light is not on us. It is on him. We are a city set up on a hill. But he is the one who is elevated. The world is drawn to his light shining through us. But it is pointing them beyond us and illuminating the way to him.
Jesus, you are the light of the world. And we commit to be your lanterns. Use us to lead others to you. We are not asking to be lifted up, but taken deeper. Elevate yourself for the world to see.
What are your thoughts on the distinction between spiritual depth and a spiritual high? How have you experienced each? How were they different?
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