Light in dark times

by Jon Konnerup

If you watch any world newscasts, you will see that our entire world is living in dark times financially, physically, and spiritually. Some people wash themselves in a “holy river” thinking the water will wash away their sins. Others cremate their dead on piers of wood and sprinkle the ashes in a river in hopes of endless reincarnations that bring a hope of enlightenment. It is hard to watch the hopelessness on their faces as many worship and give sacrifices to lifeless idols, pray five times a day to one who provides no assurance of eternal hope, and to see such devotion and commitment to false gods. Burning incense, clanging bells to obtain a god’s attention, turning prayer wheels, sprinkling holy water, and kissing shrines all testify to the darkness and hopelessness of people without Jesus Christ.

The Bible describes this as dwelling in darkness. That appears condescending to those who think they are enlightened and grasp the way of truth. It seems arrogant to those who think that all religious rituals and beliefs are just different roads leading to the same god. It offends those with postmodern attitudes that contend there are no absolutes.

This darkness is simply the absence of light. Since Jesus is the light of the world, then where there is no knowledge of Jesus the people are in darkness. This is not something Christians made up. It was Jesus himself who said in John 8:12: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

One new believer in a foreign country said, “When you are born in the dark and live your entire life in darkness, you don’t even know what light is.” That is true for most people in the world. They believe in millions of gods and live in fear and desperation to appease the spirits lest they be harmed or punished. There is no love, no peace, no assurance, no praise, nothing but darkness.

With our current economic times, people are more desperate than ever. Having their hope and faith shattered in their 401k, investments, homes, cars, jobs, and governments, people are reaching out for something or someone who can bring that peace and meaning to their lives. This is true for most people, as almost every country has felt the effects of the current crisis. These are dark times!

However, the simple truth is that the presence of light dispels the darkness. That is why Jesus said to his followers (you and me), in Matthew 5:14-16, that we are to shine the light within us (Jesus) to overcome the darkness. Right now is our greatest opportunity to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to those struggling, tripping, and falling in the dark trying to find their way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life that our world needs.

It would be a total distortion to say that the missionaries are the ones who have the sole responsibility of taking the light to a world in darkness. All of us who have come to the Light and know Jesus have the same, equal responsibility. While our missionaries go, we need to be on our knees praying for power and boldness upon them. We must continue to give because now is the time people are searching and the laborers need to be in the fields ready to share the love, peace, and light of Jesus Christ.

The good news of the gospel is what will cause the light to shine in the midst of the darkness. It is expressed so well in a song we sing:

We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right,

A story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light.

For the darkness shall turn to dawning, and the dawning to noonday bright.

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come to earth, the kingdom of love and light.

All over the world, darkness is turning to dawning as unreached people are hearing the gospel for the first time. One Chinese lady said, “Bring doctors and nurses to help my people, but more importantly bring your Story.” Others, like in Vietnam, are now hearing the gospel for the first time.

In some places, the dawning is turning to noonday bright. Places such as the Philippines, who saw the light years ago through our missionaries, are now reaching out to our dark world with the Light.

We can’t hold back, give in, or quit now, for this is the time to shine our light brighter than ever before, believing what Jesus said in John 12:46: “I am come as a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”