I sometimes think that it is more comfortable to stand or sit back and imagine the Creation of the world as something that was God’s job and it was a really long time ago. The creation of the world was eons away from the life you and I are leading right this minute. It wasn’t our fault and, in a like manner, neither was it to our credit. I am shocked to report that I have found logical evidence that this may not be true. Maybe you and I have more to do with creation than it would actually be comfortable to admit! An actual personal responsibility that is mind blowing!
We sometimes need to be reminded that God is the “eternal now”. God has always been present and always will be. We are an undeniable part of God and always have been. Do you remember the Genesis account of the creation of the world? Creation begins in the darkness that is not only formless but also a void! Nothing, that’s right, nothing! Do you remember what the very first thing that God created was? It was the remedy to the darkness, the light. “And God said; ‘Let there be light’, and there was light”. (Gen 1:3)
One day I was reading the New Testament and I was struck by a “light reading”; “You are the light of the world! A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on a lampstand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:13-16, Jerusalem Bible) This reading is so pointed, so personal. It is Jesus speaking and he leaves us with no excuses, YOU are the light of the world, not your neighbor, not your pastor, not the Pope, not some theologian. YOU are the light of the world. There’s no mistaking and no escaping the responsibility bound up in this statement. But that salvo did more than give me guilt. Rather, it made me refer back to the other light readings in the Bible; “No one lights a lamp to cover it with a bowl or to put it under a bed. No, he puts it on a lampstand so that people may see the light when they come in. For nothing is hidden but it will be made clear, nothing secret but it will be known and brought to light.” (Lk 8:16-17), “…but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth”. (Eph 5:9), “…sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (I Peter 2:9)
In His preaching and teaching Jesus did not back off from showing his followers not only who he was, but who they were! To be a follower of Jesus is to renounce all positions of safety or anonymity. As a matter of fact we are to be so illuminated, so clear that we put ourselves “out there” as an obvious target on an elevated location. That’s the message that is without question, but what about the information being given to us that is not so obvious? Scripture is so rich that it contains teaching for us in every quote that is spoken as well as what is unspoken. For the Father, light was such a pivotal part of his mission for the world that it was the very first thing he created. We cannot have a clear understanding of the mind of God and why that is, but we can give our attention to the obvious. It is clear from the writings that were quoted that we humans, the children of God have an undeniable connection to the light that God himself created. In fact that is what the Son informs us; “You are the light of the world.”
So then, is this declaration about light a different light than the light that lit the world when it was first created? That was also the light of the world. And what about the light when Jesus himself declares that he is the light of the world in John 8:12? I think that of all the things in creation, there is nothing more powerful and more mysterious than light. Scholars who have studied the burial cloth of Christ tell us unequivocally that the way the image was formed was by some tremendous force of light, some process that singed the tip of each fiber without burning to form the image. This is a technology that we don’t have or even know how to create today. People who were there say that the light from an atomic bomb blast is indescribable and unimaginable. The light of a sunrise strikes the landscape with illuminating beauty. Photographers purposely shoot in the last part of the day in order to catch “the golden hour” when the light is beautiful in a way that can’t be created in any studio. Are there different types of light? Does Jesus teach us that “his light” is better or different than all other kinds of light? No. If Jesus gave us his personal salvo: “You are the light of the world.”, where does that leave us in the grand scheme of things? Simple, right up front! Clearly The Son himself informs and commands us that, without question, we humans are imbedded in creation is a way that is mind blowing. We have value, impact, and responsibility that comes with being part of the same force of creation, resurrection, witness and evangelization that Jesus himself was integral to. We are not bystanders and we are not “Johnnie come latelies”.
This is more than mere responsibility; it is a commission without an escape clause which began in eternity at the Creation of the world. This is a call that is both overwhelming and life changing. In today’s milieu of evil, politics and money in the world, most of get used to thinking about how small we are and how helpless that makes us. In an odd sort of way this is almost a comfortable shelter, a reason to retreat and not do anything, to hide. In that comfort is the deception. Jesus clearly meant believers in the world to be seen. We are not commanded to turn water into wine, walk on water, raise the dead or rise from the dead ourselves. These were the Master’s skills. Our commission is more practical, be visible. Live your life as a believer and follower in Christ in a way that the entire world can see. Be light when there’s greed, be light when there’s prejudice, be light when people complain, be light when there is despair. We are literally the dawn and the presence of creation in all the places of the world that many think are unimportant. Like the light of creation, we are charged to illuminate every dark space that no one else can see. When God created light this is exactly what happened. Clearly we are a living part of this work. The places of darkness in the world are still many, but we have the privilege of illuminating the spots that we wind up in. This is not a difficult task, but you will be visible and some people won’t like that. If you are a true child of the light, though, that should make no difference at all. Light shows the way and gives opportunity for healing that nothing else can do. “Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going. While you [are] the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.” (Jn 12: 35-36)
Copyright © 2011 Kathryn M. Cunningham, All Rights Reserved
Check out more of Kathryn’s illuminations @ www.atravelersview.org
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