I was flying back from a conference in a large U.S. city. My heart was heavy. I felt sadness. It seemed like there was so much disorder, darkness and despair in the world.
As the plane took off into the night, my heart cried: “Lord why so much darkness, so much hatred of you and yours?”
As I prayed the plane rose over the city, I glanced through the small windows and was overwhelmed at the many lights below.
They created a beautiful mosaic — like small diamonds shinning in the night and creating a beauty that nearly brought me to tears. At that moment I heard the Lord answer. He said, “Michael, look, there is light. No darkness can over come it. It is my light in my people.”
Christ says, “I have come into the world as light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”
At that moment truth stirred me. The church is a chosen light. Yes, she is broken and bruised but the light of Christ still shines in her and in us.
Jesus said, “You (the church) are the light of the world.” But isn’t Jesus the light? Yes, but he’s no longer physically in the world, so we must shine. As the moon reflects the sun’s light even when the sun’s down, we reflect the glory of Jesus and give light to the world.
Jesus commanded us to be “like a city on a hill,” like a “lamp shining out in this dark world.” It is time for us to live as people of the light.
This past Christmas season once again recalled a story of light winning over darkness. The Magi are the symbol of the searching world, searching in darkness until they find Christ.
When do we see stars shining? In the night! Similarly, we often we find Christ in the midst of our darkest hour.
This reminds me of a time when my friend John came to me. He was broken and burdened. I asked him what he wanted. He couldn’t say, so I asked again, and again. Finally, he quietly said, with tears falling from his cheeks, “I want forgiveness.”
He found the light — the Lamb of God who takes away the sins on the world.
Without Jesus Christ, the world is in darkness.
God’s light shines in the world by putting us in certain situations where often forces are trying to extinguish our light. Strangely, the very attempt to extinguish the light makes it shine all the brighter. Blow on a fire and see what happens.
So how do we shine? Jesus said, “Men will see your good deeds and praise the Father.” People want to see a sermon before they hear one. Our message shines in our daily acts of compassion for others. We were born for this.
When our light shines it also exposes the world’s evil deeds. The truth of Jesus Christ sets us free and convicts the world of sin. When there is light there is also heat. So if you want to be light in this world you will feel heat and criticism. But if we care about others we must tell them how we must live in order to experience God’s blessings. Love is compassion with standards.
That does not always sit well with a modern culture that rails against God, that rails against the unborn, against sacramental marriage — a culture that destroys the very pillars that bind us together.
Despite this, the church must shine and proclaim truth, like a bird that sings in the early morning hours, just when it seems night will never end.
Our song will draw others away from the evil of a world that is trying to extinguish the light of Christ. As Saint Paul said in his Letter to the Romans: “The night is almost gone, and the day is near, therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.”
The darkness of the world arises from evil — from opposing the light of God. War, addictions, violence, injustice, and disease seem to fill the earth. Darkness is hitting our families, schools, marriages and cities. Spiritual darkness oppresses and endangers people. Darkness brings death.
Thankfully we don’t have to stay in darkness. We can choose light and life. Jesus promised that when we give ourselves to him, he will put his light within us and his light will overcome our darkness. It is time to shine.