During the Second World War, every effort was made to protect London and major cities from the Luftwaffe bombers. So, street-lights were switched off and black-out curtains fitted. However, it is very hard to hide a city, especially an ancient city set proudly on a mountain top. In fact ancient warfare did not really require you to try and camouflage the city. You wanted your enemies to see the city, to see the strength of its fortifications and be disheartened. You wanted your allies to see the same thing and be encouraged. You wanted your citizens to see it and know where to flee to for shelter.
The church is portrayed in the New Testament as a city on a hill. At the end of Revelation, we see that it is the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven. Often, we preach on Matthew 5:14-16 and we emphasise the importance of not hiding our light, but instead allowing it to shine out. However, notice this, the first point Jesus makes is that you cannot hide the city. Not only is it something you don’t want to do but also it is impossible for you to do it.
Whether or not we like it, the church gets noticed. People will have noticed us during lockdown. They have been looking to see:
- Have we shut down and run away from the virus?
- Have we given in to fear and been paralysed by the threat of the pandemic?
- Have we been responsible or irresponsible? Have we been good neighbours?
- Have we been only interested in ourselves or have we shown love and care for others?
- What is the message we have and does it offer hope?
- Have our online words through blogs and Facebook/Youtube videos been consistent with our online actions including our behaviour towards each other on Facebook.
Even when our buildings were closed, the light of our “city” could not be hid. The question is not whether or not the church will be seen but rather, what is it that people have seen?