February 19 I Sunday
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” —Matthew 5:14
Light is not sent into well-lit places to bring life. Instead, light is oftentimes sent into darkness to bring revelation and understanding. In the same way, Jesus sends His disciples to shine the light in dark places. In Matthew 10, He is upfront about the reality of a life on mission. He spends two verses talking about the good news that they are to declare and the good deeds that they are to do, and 25 verses talking about the inherent danger and risk of living out His mission. This seems lopsided. But in doing so, Jesus is calling our attention to the inherent risk and danger of being His follower.
In the West, we sometimes boil down a life of discipleship to the first part of Jesus’s message. We want the good news, the grace and the dramatic manifestations of the power of God, but we leave out the second part on the persecution, the insults and the hardships. When did our Christianity become so “safe”? How did becoming a Christian become a “risk-free” proposition?
A life on mission is being willing to join Jesus in His suffering. Paul writes, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). The danger is that we fall for the lie that following Jesus is only about experiencing the goodness, the grace and the light. We learn about the message of Jesus, but we shy away from the mission of Jesus. We want the message, but not the context into which the message is sent to shine.
But what if the two are correlated? What if Jesus’s resurrection power, His healing, His manifestations and His kingdom coming near only take place in the context of the darkness? As I look back at my own life, sometimes the most profound sense of His power at work in life has actually been in the riskiest situations. A few years ago, I was in Colombia covering the Venezuelan refugee crisis. During the daytime, the border crossing was secure because the Colombian special forces were there, but when the sun went down, the forces would leave because the area was too dangerous and violent for them, even though they were in full gear. A church, filled with compassion by God, rented a warehouse right at the border. Every evening, the church would open its doors and a bright light would shine out of this warehouse; inside, people were worshipping, sharing the good news and feeding the hungry. At a time when people were afraid of what happens in the evening, the light of Christ shines through this church.
Are we letting our light shine in dark places?
Prayer: Dear God, You are the light that shines in the dark places. Help me not shy away from Your mission to bring Your good news to the dark parts of the world. Thank You, Lord.