Daily Prayer :: Water

Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

February 11, 2019 — Light Pollution

Today’s Bible Reading

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. — 1 John 3:16-17 MSG

More thoughts for meditation

Trying to fall asleep in the Roxborough apartment my wife and I rent isn’t always easy. And that isn’t just because anxiety sometimes percolates in my tired mind. Rather, I can’t help spending mental effort on ignoring the small green light from the smoke detector in the upper right-hand corner of my bedroom. Or to shift my head slightly to the right so the street lamp’s glow sneaking past my so-called “blackout” curtains won’t trigger my consciousness too much. Light pollution is basically unwanted light. But it isn’t only an inconvenience when we are trying to go to bed (that kind I mentioned is called “trespass light”). The issues affect migratory bird patterns, tree growth, and is a huge waste of resources.

It’s kind of funny how this could have been Jesus’ dream when he claimed about his disciples “You are the light of the world…” (Matt 5:14) With a world covered in darkness (literally) those who had the light would stick out like sore thumbs. But in our world, which has created a light, does the metaphor still work for us? The rest of that quote in Matthew has Jesus saying that “A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” In this sense I think we can understand ourselves as L.A., which can be seen from an airplane 200 miles away.

It may seem like the metaphor has broken down with the introduction of so much artificial light, so lets flip it. If we imagine the darkness as the power and influence of Christ and his Kingdom then we can be encouraged even as the world is overtaken. Even though the “light pollution” is growing, so is Christ’s influence. Unfortunately, too many people seem to believe the opposite, that the lights on the map above are the places with Christ’s strongest influence. This has been shown to actually be the opposite and the church is more largely represented by the darker places on the map, namely, the global south. The areas of the world which are being recognized as containing the most Christians are also the places which contain the world’s poorest people. It is almost ironic how Jesus called himself the “light of the world” (John 8:12) and 2,000 years later, after the “light” has taken over the West by force, Jesus is most seen in the darkness and with the poor. But isn’t that where he always has been?

Suggestions for action

Often when I am asked where I have seen God recently I try and think of something really good that has happened to me. But after reflecting on God’s chosen form of revelation in Jesus’ willing crucifixion (See 1 John 3:16; 4:16) it becomes apparent that God is not primarily seen in the things that are typically considered #blessings.

Take a couple minutes today and get into a quiet space, a place where you can be uninterrupted for a short time. Take a few breaths to slow your mind and heart down. Try to imagine where you have seen the Crucified God so far in your day? Where have you seen suffering love? Whether it was expressed through you or in somebody else.

1 Comment

  1. Interesting metaphor flip. I get it. I do want to add, so that the metaphor doesn’t go too far, that living in this city of Philadelphia I have seen God’s light shining with enormously bright lumens, and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss seeing it who is walking around in darkness.

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