From a distance, the Parthenon appears massive atop the Acropolis, the mountain-citadel in central Athens, Greece. As you begin the ascent (on stairways wide enough to park several trucks end to end), it’s easy to lose perspective, with the structure continuing to rise beyond the line of sight. The trek up the mountain is itself quite an undertaking, yet only on reaching the top do you realize the monumental feat it was to construct a building like this—a feat that has withstood the test of time. By day, sunlight reflects off the chiseled white stone for miles. At night, the city illuminates its greatest treasure so that, at all hours, the Parthenon shines.
When I recently looked at Dr. Stanley’s image of the Parthenon at night, my mind went to Matthew 5:14-16, where Jesus encourages His followers with these words: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
The city of Athens illuminates the Parthenon at night for one simple reason: It is worth being seen. And I think about the Lord’s words, not just to the disciples but to us as well: We’re called to let our light radiate to the darkened world.
The city of Athens illuminates the Parthenon at night for one simple reason: It is worth being seen. And I think about the Lord’s words, not just to the disciples but to us as well: We’re called to let our light radiate to the darkened world. Jesus associates “shining” with the revelation of good works, no doubt the outward signs of the Spirit’s fruit. (See Gal. 5:22-23.) But the Lord’s encouragement also contains an implicit warning that the opposite could happen if we’re not wise. He insinuates we might at times be inclined to hide our light but urges us not to give in to that temptation. Just as Athenians can look up to the lit Parthenon in pride, so we believers can look to one another and rejoice in God’s good work—in and through every saint who reflects the light of Jesus. May it be true of you and me.