If you walk into any jewelry store, you will notice that most of the jewelry, especially the diamonds, are laid out on black velvet. The store does this because the black velvet or any dark background provides a contrast that accentuates or brings out the brightness and beauty of the jewelry.
Well, I was meeting with a group of clergy the other day and we were discussing what the church’s response should be to the recent racial tension that has gripped our nation because of what happened in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas. As we sat there, it occurred to me that the fact that we were sitting there, discussing what we “should” do was an indictment against us because of what we haven’t been doing! Let me show you what I’m talking about:
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Phil. 2:14-15 ESV) Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14-16 ESV) Do you know when light shines the brightest? When it is surrounded by darkness! I used to think that the stars only came out at night. But the scientific truth is that the stars are shining all the time! But we are only able to see their brilliance and beauty at night because of the darkness!
What am I saying? I am saying that the best response for the church and for any Christian in light of what is happening in our nation is not to do anything extra or special, but to just simply be what Christians and the church suppose to be in the first place! Be a city that sits on a hill that cannot be hidden! Be a bright light in a dark place! Shine like stars; brightly lighting up the sky on a dark night! In the midst of the darkness of racism, hatred, and gun violence, those who are truly Christians shine like stars on a dark night! The real followers of Christ are so different from the world that they contrast like diamonds on black velvet!
The problem with the church has been that, all too often, the church has been trying to be “like the world” in order to attract the world! But our calling is to be different! When you “be” like something, you actually become that! While the church is trying to be like the world to attract the world, the world really wishes the church would actually be different because the world is sick of itself and really doesn’t want to be the way that it is! The world is hungry for something authentic and real! The world is hungry for the Living Bread! No! Our calling is to be a stark contrast to the world! Our calling is to be like stars shining on a dark night! Our calling is to be like diamonds on black velvet!