Too often the road of evangelism and mission is one people attempt to travel alone. But we need the encouragement, support, and accountability of community as we live on mission.
In Matthew 5, in what has been termed the ‘Sermon on the Mount,’ Jesus gave great metaphors for what mission could and should look like. One of the specific ideas was comparing the idea of our mission and message to light.
You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:14-16)
One of the keys to understanding this passage is to recognize that Jesus was addressing a community of people, and He illustrated the carrier of this great hope as a city.
There has never been a city that had a population of one. One person on a hill does not qualify as a city no matter how hard he or she may try. A city is a city because it has a large number of people who make up its population. We are called to invite people into biblical community so they can experience the ‘city’ – the family of God.
People need to see the grace of God lived out among a group of people. They need to see other believers repenting, confessing, rejoicing in God’s grace, and forgiving others. They need to see the gospel applied to life. People desperately desire to belong to something bigger than themselves, and despite being more connected than ever (social media), many people are incredibly lonely.
You are not meant simply to show off the light that you have as an individual, but rather you are meant to display the light of the gospel through a community of people who are unified in Jesus. Biblical community is like a city on a hill that emits a great light to those who are wandering around in a dark, desolate desert.
Dustin Willis & Aaron Coe, Life On Mission: Joining the Everyday Mission of God (Chicago: Moody, 2014), 132-33.