Have you ever been in a place where there is no light? I’m not talking about going to sleep without your nightlight on or spending a few hours at home with no power. I’m talking about being in a place where there is total darkness.
There’s a scene in the movie Shawshank Redemption where prisoner Andy Dufresne offends the warden, and he gets sent to a place called “the hole.” The hole is an isolated chamber meant to punish its inhabitants, and the prisoners in the movie regard it with extreme fear. The hole is so highly feared not only because the prisoners are in complete isolation but also because they find themselves in total darkness. They find themselves in a stifling, all encompassing, hopeless state.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip with Mercy Hill Church to the Middle East. Within the first 24 hours of our trip to this aesthetically beautiful country, I found myself extremely burdened by one attribute of the city: its darkness.
Islam is the official religion in the city we visited, and the majority of the population is Muslim. Muslims seek salvation by striving to obey the Five Pillars of Islam, and they hope that their good deeds will outweigh their bad deeds at the end of their life. Even Muhammed, the founder of their faith, when asked if he was going to heaven, answered, “إن شاء الله (Inshallah),” meaning “God willing.” I, as a follower of Christ, can clearly see the deprivation of hope in this. Without the assurance of salvation there is no confidence or light; there’s only insecurity and darkness. I found myself heartbroken over this reality. Our team wept over a city of over four million people without hope.
On the contrary, as Christians, we have abundant hope. After spending time in a Muslim country, I was made keenly aware of the following three truths about followers of Christ that I’d like to share:
We are the light of the world.
Matthew 5:14-16 says,
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
If Christians are the light of the world, that explains why I was so burdened by the darkness in the Middle East. The missionaries we met up with are the first missionaries in their particular city in over 1400 years. For 1400 years there has been no Gospel presence. Take a moment and think about how devastating this truly is. Where there is no Gospel presence, there is no light.
We are called to go.
The Great Commission states,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you . . .” (Matthew 28:19-20a).
As Christians, there’s no way we can ignore or be okay with the darkness we see all around us. Jesus commands us here in Matthew 28 and all throughout the Bible to go and share the good news of the Gospel. I saw first-hand how hard it is to live as a missionary overseas, but Jesus did not tell us to go and make disciples where it’s easy. He commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations. The level of difficulty in sharing the Gospel is never an excuse not to go.
We have hope.
Titus 3:3-7 states,
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Friends, this is the Gospel. God saved us, according to his own mercy, by sending his son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for our sins. It’s only because of Christ that we now have the hope of eternal life. In Christ our hope is sure. When asked if we are going to heaven, our answer need not be inshallah; our answer is yes. If this is true, if Jesus Christ is in fact our only hope, then how can we do anything but obey the call to go into the darkness and live as light?
Christians, we are all the light of the world, and we are all called to go. I encourage you today to remember and reflect on the hope you have in the Gospel. We must be ready and willing to share this hope with others. Whether you are in another country walking the streets or walking the streets of downtown Greensboro, you are sent.
-Jenna (Communications Associate)