There are some simple yet profound truths that seem to penetrate your heart and reshape the way you think about certain things. I've had a great many such moments of encountering a truth in that way. So many in fact that I doubt I could recall them all.
But reading the opening of John's gospel reminded me of such a truth. The prologue of the gospel does a great job of setting up the themes that will follow. Light and darkness is one of these themes. In the opening verse we are told that light has come into the world and the darkness cannot overcome it.
It is light that changes darkness and not the other way around. Although it may appear that darkness takes over, it doesn't. Darkness occurs where there is no light. Light is the agent of change.
I remember hearing someone preaching about mission and they got talking about darkness. I remember them saying that darkness is by nature dark and we should not blame the darkness for being dark. The problem lies with a lack of light. Jesus told his followers that they were the light of the world and Paul urged the Christians in Ephesus to live as children of the light.
It is so easy for us to blame the world for all its ills and to see the people beyond the Christian community as the problem. They are not the problem. Darkness exists where there is no light. If we are the light, then isn't it our place to enter the dark places and let the light shine?
If only we knew how.