One of my favorite memories as a ten year old boy living on Long Island was my first visit to the Montauk Light House. Located on the eastern end of the island, it still safely guides ships in the Atlantic ocean through the night and the fog with a powerful beam of light.
The light house keeper took me up the steps and let me see the source of this magnificent beam of light that can cut through the darkness to keep ships on course. What I saw surprised me. It was a relatively small bulb, surrounded by dozens of clear prisms. As keeper, his job during the day was to clean each prism and put it back in its place. I remarked that they looked clean to me, and he said they were not clean enough until each one had been removed, wiped, and replaced. Each day the salt spray, dust and debris would settle on the prisms and dull their ability to let the light fully pass through them. When the night came, they needed to be at their best to let the light flow through them unobstructed so they could magnify the beam of a relatively small bulb and penetrate the darkness so ships could see clearly the dangers ahead.
If the light did not reach out into the dark, then a ship captain or pilot might not see the shore until it was too late. They could miss the entrance to Long Island Sound or fail to navigate around the rocks that would safely put them on the South Shore heading towards New York Harbor.
The prisms needed to be cleaned in order for them to magnify the light. They were not the source of the light. They were designed to be instruments that allowed the light to pass through them individually and corporately. If each prism performed the function for which it was designed, and was rightly related to the prism next to it, then the light was magnified. One prism with fissures, fractures, or film would inhibit the light of another. All needed to be at their best when the darkness fell.
As a Christ follower, I offer this word of encouragement to those who sometimes wonder if one person's life can make a difference in what is fast becoming a world of increasing spiritual darkness. Jesus is The Light of the World.
I believe the local church is still the world's best hope for seeing The Light of Jesus and guiding lost people to a right relationship with God. Christ's followers are like the prisms that surrounded the source of light in the Montauk Light House. When the followers of Christ see their need to be cleaned each day by the gentle hand of the Holy Spirit, and be rightly related to one another, the church penetrates the darkness with the Light of God's Truth and the warmth of Christ's Love.
Chiseled in stone over the entrance to a church in England is a quote that reminds me every generation has had to make the choice to let the Light of Jesus shine through them in the context of their own immediate circumstance and intimidating darkness. It says,
"In the year 1653 when all things sacred in the Kingdom were either profaned or demolished, this church was built...to do the best of things in the worst of times."
My challenge to Christ followers is to let your light shine. Jesus said: "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12) Cursing the darkness generates heat, but sheds no light for those looking for a way home out of the night of fear and through the fog of confusion. So together now, every body sing, "This little light of mine. I'm gonna let it shine!"