|The nation mourned and honored
a good man last month, (June 14-18, 2004). He was not a perfect man, because
none of us are perfect, but that is all God has to work with.
President Reagan was a man with vision. His name will be forever linked with the phrase, "City Upon a Hill." He was called the "Great Communicator" for his ability to share his vision with others.
John Winthrop also had a vision. Since I had never read John Winthrop's "City upon a Hill" before, I decided to look it up. It was written to inspire the colonists who were the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
I do not want to discuss the politics of these men, but I do want to encourage others to see the vision of being "a city on a hill." Proverbs 29:18 states: "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." (King James Version.)
John Winthrop's "City upon a Hill" contains what the vision is, how to be that vision, and the consequences of not fulfilling that vision. It is a vision, not just for a colony or for the United States, but for Spiritual Israel, the representatives of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus gives the vision of what we should be:
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16
Winthrop points out that we should follow the counsel of Micah to carry out that vision:
"... To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8
From Winthrop's essay I gleaned that we must be knit together as one man. We must have affection for one another with meekness, gentleness and patience. As members of the same body we must have the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace by rejoicing, mourning, working and suffering together having our focus on our Commission and Community.
When we have that unity of spirit, God will dwell with us. He will give us more of his wisdom, power, goodness and truth. Ten of us will be able to resist a thousand.
He goes on to say if we "deale falsely" with God in this work, we will "be made a story and a byword" throughout the world. People will speak evil of God's way.
He reminded people of what God had said through Moses in Deuteronomy 30, "... I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life..."
What does this have to do with the woman of great faith in Matthew 15 and Mark 7?
She too had a vision. Her vision was that of her daughter being relieved from the torment of demon possession. She was humble before Jesus, even though he seemed to ignore her at first. She was humble and did not lash out at the disciples even though they looked down on her, considered her an annoyance and wanted to send her on her way.
We need to see the vision and then have faith to have that vision fulfilled. We must go forward even when at times God seems to be ignoring us or when other Christians appear to be looking down on us.
Elizabeth Fry, the mother of eight, at age 33 went out to serve Commission and Community. She started serving others by reading God's words to women in prison. From that small beginning came a major prison reform movement.
She had a vision to make the lives of the women in prison just a little better.
Elizabeth Fry desired a small crumb of God's help. She wanted to reach out to those suffering women. Her power must have seemed insignificant, with a large family and responsibilities. She started with such a small thing, reading scriptures. But her faith multiplied what she accomplished. She resisted against hundreds of enemies including despair, injustice and poverty. Her light shining upon a hill encouraged others to join her in the fight.
"... when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8
I have to admit that I often feel overwhelmed by the enemies surrounding us in this culture. I have now been reminded to have persistence with God even if at times he seems to be ignoring me. I will seek him, wrestle with him, reminding him I only need a crumb from him, because I have seen what a crumb can accomplish. I will strive to be a citizen of that city upon a hill. Please join me in becoming part of the community that is "a city on a hill."
By Nancy Vandemark