I’ve been thinking a lot about light and darkness this week. As winter sets in there is a physical darkness at this time of year. This physical darkness appears to be a tangible manifestation of the darkness that seems to be engulfing the world. It feels like the situations we are witnessing each day are rooted in a pit of darkness and despair.
It’s hard to look at the state of the world and not feel utterly defeated. I must admit I was feeling this way when I attended a lecture that the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox church in UK gave. To be honest I don’t know much about the Coptic Church but what struck me immediately about this man was how his love for Jesus just oozed out of him.
Many things he said impacted me that day but one particular story stood out. He was telling of the 21 Coptic Christians who were murdered by ISIS earlier this year. This was filmed and distributed around the globe. The men on their knees could be heard chanting “Lord Jesus Christ” as they faced imminent death. Some even screamed the name Yeshua in their last moments.
The Bishop told how ISIS intention was to spread fear amongst those who didn’t share their beliefs. In taking the lives of these men they viewed that they were victorious. Yet the Bishop shared of the outpouring of support his church received globally and of the unity it invoked. He spoke of how the courage of the Christians who died has inspired many to further profess their faith.
A man who lost his two brothers that day said this "ISIS gave us more than we asked when they didn't edit out the part where they declared their faith and called upon Jesus Christ. ISIS helped us strengthen our faith."
The Bishop went on to encourage us by saying that the victorious were the men who died that day. The intent of those killings was to destroy and divide but we the church are “the light of the world - like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden”.
He reminded us that the light of the world burns in each of us. The Bishop said that the unity and hope that came from this tragedy reminded him of what happens when you bind lit candles together – the light burns with greater intensity, it’s hard to ignore or put out.
As powerless as it can sometimes feel to watch the evil mess this world is in its vital to remember that there is a hope more powerful than the darkest forces. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5
The thing is about darkness is it has nowhere to hide when it comes to light!