Jesus said to his followers, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
When the Puritans came to America in 1630, they made a covenant with each other to love God and to love their neighbors as themselves. Their leader, John Winthrop, said, “We shall be as a Shining City on a Hill.” And God blessed them.
During the Great Puritan Migration, twenty thousand Puritans came to America and joined them in this endeavor. These people established a nation where people were free to base their lives on the Bible without being bothered by their government.
They showed the world what God can do with a nation that honors his word. They fulfilled the vision of their leader, John Winthrop. And that’s how America became the Shining City on a Hill.
Ronald Reagan spoke of the Shining City in his Farewell Address.
I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind swept, God blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace – a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.
That’s how I saw it, and see it still. How Stands the City?
And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that: after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm.
And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the Pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.
America is still The Shining City on a Hill. We are still a beacon for freedom. It is home to tens of millions of Christians. We are the spiritual descendants of the people who built America. And those who fought and died for it. We are people of all races and ethnicities. We are people of all social and economic levels. We are united by our faith in Jesus Christ, and therefore, to quote Patrick Henry:
“We are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us . . . Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone, There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.”
The people who hate America and want to destroy it don’t know they are fighting against God. And he will help us defeat them.