First, be a Light on a hill.

August 18, 2017 Justin Peter Gudel

To my many supportive non-Christian friends, I apologize. This post is religious in nature.

“First, be a light on a hill.”

Recently, these words came to mind while I contemplated the role of the evangelist. It’s not a position or mantle that I have ever wanted to consider. Something about that job always appeared off-putting. To me, it seemed to carry a whiff of confrontation masked with smiles and cotton candy.

An evangelist is a person who asserts that something is wrong in another person’s belief system. An evangelist posits a particular truth and endeavors to change people to his worldview.

That description didn’t feel like me. I’m opinionated. But I qualify those thoughts with permission to disregard them. I enjoy debate but often play devil’s advocate. To me, the best outcome of any conversation is another conversation.

How could I share my truth, what I believe to be God’s truth, and still be that guy who ate and drank with people from all backgrounds? Wouldn’t the title of evangelist come across repugnant to the those who had already left the church?

“First, be a light on a hill.”

Jesus said a similar phrase. He said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” He spoke those words to the crowds of Am Ha’aretz, or the people of the land. Am Ha’aretz was a derogatory catch-all phrase that the sophisticated Jews would use to identify the uneducated or gentiles amongst them. It could also be innocuous and mean all of Israel. Its meaning depended on whether the person saying the phrase made the nouns plural or singular. It was a perfect term for the holiest of snobs.

“First, be a light on a hill.”

Jesus didn’t see the crowds the same way the Pharisees did. He didn’t see them as boorish, ignorant, or lacking in spiritual practice. Jesus saw them for who they were (God’s children) and for who they could become. He saw them as a city on a hill. He saw them as a gathering of lights that couldn’t be hidden.

If you care about people, I can’t think of a better place to start. I’d wager to say, that it’s so important that you shouldn’t just start there, but you should live there — on the hill.

Instead of crafting the perfect message, just be a light. Rather than be confrontational, first be someone who loves. Don’t engender further division. Wash feet. If you think I’m facetious, I’m not. When it comes to outreach, it would be better for you to be an awesome human being, then a Christian with an ax to grind. I’ll never be that guy with a megaphone on a street corner. Or if I do, please spirit me away. Instead, I’m going to be that guy who will try his best to listen. I’ll be that guy who will invite everyone to lunch. I’ll be genuine. I’ll be honest. I will be a courteous human being.

While I struggled with how to see myself in this role, I remembered how Jesus already saw me. I was a light on a hill.

Care to join me?