A Paradoxical Light

There is a lot of darkness in the world.

But as Christians, we don’t make it our focus. By God’s grace, there is also a lot of light.

The apostle Paul says that God has ‘made his light shine in our hearts’ (2 Cor. 4:6). It’s not the sort of light you purchase at Home Depot, when you evaluate the wattage for your favorite lamp. This is the light of God, and he beams it into our hearts.

It is also the light predicted by the prophet Isaiah when he said the people walking in darkness would see a great light (9:2). According to Isaiah, that light is seven times brighter than the sun (30:26).

That’s pretty astonishing. The sun is about 1,000 times brighter than a 100 watt bulb held at a distance of three meters. Imagine a light seven times brighter than that — that’s what’s shining in our hearts!

However, it’s not just a bright light; it is also a meaningful light. For the light prophesied by Isaiah received its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. It shone ‘in the face of Christ’ (2 Cor. 4:6).

The word ‘face’ is significant. The light of God shone first and foremost on the face of Jesus Christ. No doubt Paul is thinking specifically of the crucified face of Christ. Nowhere did the glory of God shine more brightly than on the broken face of the Nazarene hanging on a cross.

It is thus a paradoxical light: infinite glory effervescing on an ignoble cross.

Perhaps that’s why people today focus on the darkness — the incurable virus, the tanking economy, the waffling politicians, the ugly racism. They simply don’t see the light of God, since it is obscured by the dimness of a cross.

How can a light seven times brighter than the sun be obscured? Surely it must be visible today.

But where?

Paul tells us where: in the hearts of Christians . . . in your heart and mine.

God doesn’t want the light to remain hidden in our hearts. He wants it to come out. And when it does, it is a cross-shaped light.

Notice the preceding verse: ‘We preach . . . Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake’ (2 Cor. 4:5). The light in our hearts emerges in self-sacrificial service.

It is thus a subversive light.

The light of self-giving love cuts through the darkness like nothing else can. It is the light of new creation. It is the glory of selflessness overpowering the gloom of selfishness.

It is precisely this cross-shaped light that a dark world desperately needs to see.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let your light shine.

In the present darkness, let’s serve people sacrificially like Jesus did.

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