It happens whenever you teach and reteach a passage of scripture: you see something new each time, regardless of how many times you’ve gone through it. This time through what we call the new covenant passage (2 Corinthians 2:12-6:13) we’re in the first few verses of chapter four and I found something new to point out to you today.
This is a difficult passage because it begins by saying that the message of the good news of Jesus Christ that lives in us is not going to be accepted by everyone because “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). This would seem to hardly be fair in that it puts some people beyond hope through no fault of their own. No matter how much light there is, or how obvious it seems to us, they can’t see it because they are blind to it. Except that two verses later he writes, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). He’s referring to the Creation story when God said “Let there be light,” and light appeared out of nowhere. (Our oldest son, Christopher, used to always want to say when we got to this part of the Creation story, “… and God said, ‘Will someone please turn on the lights?’”) Except that when God spoke, there was no switch; He spoke into the void. He spoke into nothing and made something exist that didn’t exist before. The lesson for us being that God did that for us — He spoke into our hearts when there was nothing there but darkness — and if He could do that for us, He can do that for someone who is currently blind to the truth. God is bigger that the god of this world. He is a God of miracles.
Now I want you to look at that verse again (4:6) and tell me exactly where this magnificent light is on display. Where are people going to be able to see the light if they could? In a great sermon by the pastor? In an effective evangelistic crusade? Through a book by your favorite Christian author? In the stimulating worship music at church? In a masterful apologetic by some great Christian intellectual that answers every question a non-Christian could ever have? I suppose there is some light showing up in all these things, but none of them are what Paul is talking about here. What he’s talking about here is what I believe is the primary source of this light in the world. It’s you. And it’s even deeper than that; it’s in your heart. “God … made this light shine in our hearts.”
You and I are God’s means of reaching the world, and we do it by letting people into our hearts. We’ve got to let people into our hearts because that is where the light is. This is much deeper than “witnessing,” than “door to door evangelism,” than sharing the “Four Spiritual Laws” with someone. This is the give and take of a relationship. This is a delicate matter. It takes time to build trust. It takes time for someone to open their heart to you, and you, to them, but that is where the light is most effective. And it is a glorious light put there by God Himself, spoken into existence in the same manner in which He brought light into the formlessness and void of the world. He brought something out of nothing, and He can do it again through you as you open your heart.
What an amazing thing to be a part of, don’t you think?