This post is part one of a series on “Seeing in the Dark.” Find the rest of the series here: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.
She sat on the edge of my bed that night and whispered, “Keep your eyes open, my child, long enough to see the light in the darkness.”
Those were my Grandmother’s words to me as a child when I couldn’t settle in at night for fear of the dark. Fear would paralyze me as I imagined the worst with every creak and crack of that old house.
Her words didn’t offer much comfort in the moment, but have since proven prophetic as I converse with others about navigating the crossroads between Christianity and Culture – especially with regard to politics and popular culture. This is the beginning of that conversation – one I hope others will help me carry in the coming weeks.
So many times it seems that we church folk find ourselves on the frontier of cultural fear, paralyzed by what appears to be an ever-increasing darkness – an unraveling, some would say, that is sending our culture spiraling out of control. It is easy to see how folks have arrived at a place where they find themselves knee-deep in fear, when we see how polarizing the headlines are each day, and how quickly they are supercharged by the political pundits who serve to drive us further apart from each other.
The response from those who find themselves afraid is understandable, but still discouraging.
Because some Christians do little more than condemn what they see in the world before withdrawing into their sanctuaries to worship what they cannot see, we church folk, who are otherwise known as lovers of the light, are just as easily pegged as fear mongers by those outside our congregations.
The fear, it would seem, of what is seen is often greater
than any assurances offered by that which is unseen.
My own fear these days is not directed at our culture, or even at the church, but rather for the church. What if, in withdrawing, shutting down, or merely condemning what we see in the culture at large, Christians fall victim to missing out on the one who created the world in the first place? I fear for the church that it may be missing out on something that one of Jesus’ followers said long ago:
“Jesus was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, but his own did not receive him.”
You caught that, right? There were, living in Jesus’ days, those unable to see him – unable to receive him.
I can’t help but wonder if what is true for many Christians today was true for the religious people in Jesus’ own day – that they too possessed a fear of what was seen being greater than the assurances offered by that which was unseen.
I wonder what would have happened had the religious people living in Jesus’ day followed my grandmother’s advice and kept their eyes open long enough to see the light.
May your life not be like those who missed out on seeing Jesus.
May you not be so afraid by what you see in our culture that Jesus goes unseen.
May you not make the mistake of so many others before you and all around you, who fail to see that this world, as dark as it is at times, beholds a great light dwelling in the midst of it.
And may you instead hear the words of my grandmother whispering anew:
“Keep your eyes open, my child, long enough to see the light in the darkness.”
Header image credit: Epiphany Lights Jesus Bulbs Still. Accessed June 17, 2015. ShiftWorship.com.
Taylor Hammett is the Lead Minister at the Corners Church, a small church located just outside Atlanta, GA. He holds an MTS from Lipscomb University and an M.Div. from Emory University. Taylor and his wife live just outside of Atlanta with their two daughters, where he watches way more princess movies than baseball games these days.