Imagine you have just arrived in New York City. You are looking forward to a few days of museums and shows and dining out at some of the world’s best restaurants. You land at the airport, hop an Uber to your hotel, but just as you are pulling up to your hotel something strange happens — the lights go out. You come to find out that the entire city has lost power. It’s not the first time this has happened, you remember reading about the NYC blackout of 1977 and 2003 and 2019 … but you didn’t expect it while you were visiting. So you go into the hotel and they hand you a candle and a flashlight, and you fill out your information on a piece of paper because all the computers are down. And you make your way up the stairs to your room because the elevator isn’t working. It feels a little hot with no AC, so you decide to crack the window. When you open the window shades you are shocked to see that there is a hotel across the street that is all lit up. You open the window and you hear music! There is a whole lot of joy across the street and you are in a whole lot of darkness. You are baffled, you are wondering, how in the world can there be this much light in the middle of this much darkness? So you decide to make your way downstairs because obviously you’re in the wrong hotel. So you grab your candle and flashlight and make your way back downstairs and across the street in the city that has gone dark. The streetlights are not lit, the houses are not lit, the storefronts are not lit, your hotel is not lit – but this place is all lit up. You walk across the street into an air-conditioned space, and there are TVs all along the walls of the foyer with CNN talking about how dark NY is. You get into a line that is serving food because none of the other places in town can serve food without power. Eventually, you find the manager and you say to her, “I don’t understand, please help me understand, how can there be this much light in the midst of this much darkness?” and she says, “I’ve been getting that question a lot and it’s fairly simple: when we built this hotel we built it with a gas generator. So we are not dependent on what is happening out there to determine what is going on here. We’ve got something in here that because it is not dependent on what is going on out there, gives us in here what out there does not possess. We have something built-in that gives us the ability to transcend the darkness in which we find ourselves.”
Jesus said to his followers,
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden” — Matthew 5:14
Jesus is saying: you have something built-in that gives you the ability to transcend the darkness, you’ve got something in here (in your soul and in the community I have given you called the church) that is not dependent on what is happening “out there” in the world. Jesus is talking about how his followers will show up in a society when it is dark, how they will be light, how they will be IN the dark world but not OF the dark world. It is this idea of Christians and culture – how do you follow Jesus when the world has gone mad? How can you let your light shine?
May you access your God-given resources to shine the light of the world in your corner of the world today.