The match head is slowly dragged along the striking surface, the sand and powdered glass creates friction and heat, which is just enough to convert some of the red phosphorous to white phosphorus—a chemical so volatile that it ignites in the air. The heat breaks down the potassium chlorate in the match head, thereby releasing oxygen that serves as fuel for the fire. The oxygen then combines with sulfur and together keep the flame burning.
The flickering light cuts through the thick darkness without apology. All the darkness in a room cannot extinguish the influence of even the smallest flame that chooses to shine. In the words of John, the Apostle in the Gospel of John, referring to Jesus, “And this Living Expression is the Light that bursts through gloom— the Light that darkness could not diminish!” (John 1:5 TPT)
We are living in a day many would define as dark. Gloom hangs over the world like a thick fog rolling in at dusk. Many, navigating their existential crisis, wonder if there is any purpose to living. As humans, we seek meaning for our lives. When we can’t find it, we create it. When we can do neither, existential dread and existential anxiety fill the minds and souls of humanity. We need meaning most during times of adversity. It is in those moments that you choose between coping or surviving and growing as a person.
Are we at a cultural crisis point? Crisis, a word or condition where something, like a disease, is at a turning point. Someone begins to heal, or they begin to die. The word crisis derives from Latin meaning “decision”, or from Greek krisis, meaning to decide.
If we truly are at a cultural crisis point, we have a decision to make—How then shall we live? Will we be a light of understanding and hope, or will we continue to passively sit in the gross darkness adjusting our eyesight? Many, no longer satisfied self-medicating in their apathy, are stirred in their hearts and are beginning to move against the cultural norms of this present Post-Modern age.
As I wrote in a previous article, “A New Normal”, I referenced a New Renaissance emerging that will be a bridge leading humanity out of the isolation and darkness of the Modern Age and into a Golden Age of harmony, prosperity, and community. A movement that seeks to connect and equip artists, entrepreneurs and other creatives with theologians and preachers because they believe creativity and faith are designed by God to be practiced together. I believe this may have been what Jesus referred to prophetically as, “Pray that the Father’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
What would it look like if the values of Heaven, such as honor, love, justice, and integrity, moved powerfully against the grain of selfishness, apathy, corruption, and dishonesty? What would it look like to express love for the broken in a radical, extravagant and sacrificial way; where people cared for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised as a personal commitment?
The first Renaissance arose out of the horrific ashes of the Black Plague. The second Renaissance is arising out of the ashes of a horrific existential crisis of meaninglessness, purposelessness, and depression that so often characterizes our modern culture.
Eric Hoffer observed, “When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.” Romans 12:2 in the Living Bible Translation cautions, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how His ways will really satisfy you.”
What must we do to be different and begin to shine? First, returning to the One True Light, Jesus. We must each discover this relationship with the God defined as Light, and Love. It is futile to look for meaning and love while at the same time running from God.
Second, we must align with our calling in life and regain our focus. God’s will is not a map, but rather, it’s a match. It ignites the fire within your heart and from that fire, lights the path before you. You can choose to live with your light on pilot, or you can develop the power of a focused life.
Focus allows you to live a life of full intensity, to release your light to the world. A focused life allows all your passion to fuel the momentum in a singular direction. Focus is almost counterculture today. There will be friction and heat when moving in an opposite direction. Some will want you to dial down your intensity. Others, will find their inspiration in the heat of your fire.
The word focus comes from a Latin word meaning “hearth” or fireplace,” in other words, the burning center. The hotter your burning center, the more focused you become; and the more you will shine. One person with passion is greater than the passive force of ninety-nine with only a casual interest.
Jesus said to His followers, “Your lives light up the world. Let others see your light from a distance, for how can you hide a city that stands on a hilltop? And who would light a lamp and then hide it in an obscure place? Instead, it’s placed where everyone in the house can benefit from its light. So, don’t hide your light! Let it shine brightly before others, so that the commendable things you do will shine as light upon them, and then they will give their praise to your Father in heaven.” Matt 5:14-17
What has been under appreciated about the life of Jesus is how his followers actually learn to engage life. He ignited a movement that unleashed previously untapped potential in those who believed in Him. He created an environment where his followers began to believe the impossible and soon, they were turning dreams into reality. His became a movement of dreamers and visionaries called and compelled to dream of a better world. Jesus helped them understand they could be influencers, like light, piercing the darkness.
We are attracted to dancing flames in a fireplace. We draw near, mesmerized and warmed in its presence. So too, the human heart is captivated and inspired when touched by the extravagant love from the generous nature of God. One thing we know from the life of Jesus, is God is scandalously forgiving, His mercy burns as it destroys shame. His love is so unconditional, you’re free to be joyfully You!
Light often signifies understanding and wisdom. The wise give hope and those who give the greatest hope, will have the greatest influence. Like the ancient Sons of Issachar, discerning the Times, we need people of wisdom giving light to illumine the path and guiding direction in the emerging New Renaissance.
We live in a day of comparison, judging the value of our lives by the number of followers on Instagram or Twitter. This of course speaks to our need for significance. But truly, if you want to be a star, then poke holes in someone’s darkness and shine. Comparison can make you dial down your light or it make you want to stand up and shine brighter than ever.