R3 Alliance | THE PROPERTY OF LIGHT, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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THE PROPERTY OF LIGHT, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

THE PROPERTY OF LIGHT, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”  Matthew 5:14

The call of Jesus makes the disciple community not only the salt but also the light of the world: their activity is visible, as well as imperceptible.  “You are the light.”  Once again it is not: “You are to be the light”, they are already the light because Christ has called them, they are a light which is seen of men, they cannot be otherwise, and if they were it would be a sign that they had not been called.  How impossible, how utterly absurd it would be for the disciples—these disciples, such men as these!—to try and become the light of the world!  No, they are already the light, and the call has made them so.  Nor does Jesus say: “You have the light.”  The light is not an instrument which has been but into their hands, such as their preaching.  It is the disciples themselves.  The same Jesus who, speaking of himself, said, “I am the light,” says to his followers:  “You are the light in your whole existence, provided you remain faithful to your calling (see also John 8:12).  And since you are that light, you can no longer remain hidden, even if you want to.”  It is the property of light to shine.  A city set on a hill cannot be hid; it can be seen for miles away, whether it is a fortified burgh, a stronghold or a tottering ruin.  This city set on the hill (the Israelite would instinctively think of “Jerusalem on high”: is the disciple community.  But this is not to say that the disciples have now to make their first decision.  The only necessary decision has already been taken.  Now they must be what they really are—otherwise they are not followers of Jesus.  The followers are a visible community; their discipleship visible in action which lifts them out of the world—otherwise it would not be discipleship.

 

Excerpt from Classics Devotional Bible, NIV, Zondervan