It is not unusual to see a church that has a cross that is lighted at night. One evening as I was driving in the darkness of rural Mississippi, I saw down the road a cross that was blinking. From a long distance I wasn’t sure what it was but as I got closer, I saw that it was a cross against the blackness of the night that was lighting up and then going out. The blinking was erratic, almost as though it was programmed to be like that, though I am sure it wasn’t. I slowed down as I got closer because I just wanted to see what was going on with this cross. Apparently it was just an electrical short and the sign kept coming on and going off, sometimes staying off for a while and coming back on, just to blink and then to go back off.
As I went on my way I kept thinking about the cross, the cross of which Scripture speaks. The cross upon which Jesus, the Son of the Living God, died taking our sins upon Himself. I thought about the cross that the Bible says for those who are lost and unbelieving, it is just foolishness but for us who are saved it is the power of God. I thought again about the cross I had passed just a few miles back. I thought about the good things that you could find in a blinking cross. I thought how it was an amazing, attention-getting event for me that night. I wondered whether I would have even noticed if it wasn’t blinking — but it was blinking and got my attention and funneled my thoughts into the goodness and grace of God who provided for us a cross by which we could be saved.
I wondered how many others would come that way and be captured by the attention drawn to a blinking cross. I wondered how many times God has brought His relevant, powerful message to people’s hearts more profoundly than a blinking cross on a dark night. Maybe you’ve passed by many crosses in your life and maybe God in His gracious love put in your pathway a blinking, pulsating, attention-getting cross because He wants you to be saved and to have your life transformed by the power of the cross of Jesus.
Then strangely I thought about the down side, the bad side of a blinking cross. I wondered how many people were passing by that night or maybe if the sign continued to do that night after night, how many would pass by while the cross was dark? Not lighted, not capturing attention or hearts, but dark on that sloping hillside. It is true that sometimes we who have come to know Jesus and have been given new life because of His death on the cross do not shine like we should in this world.
Maybe there are people who have passed by you at work or school or in social settings, and the radiance of your life in Christ wasn’t seen because the cross doesn’t shine in you. Our sin, our disobedience, our stubborn or rotten attitude can certainly dim the light of the cross that others may see. The cross needs to be lit and shining brightly so that everyone can see and know what Christ has done for us.
There is an ancient story of a wealthy man in a mountain hamlet who wanted to give the people of the town a new church. He was willing to pay for it and with joy the people were willing to receive it and were delighted to have a new church. The only stipulation the man made was that the church building would have no lights. No lights? That was correct. The light would only come as each person who came to worship would bring their own lamp. What an amazing thought. Week after week the gathering of God’s people would light up the place because of the light they brought.
Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Let the Lord take you — your gifts, your spirit, your willingness to be available to Him— and light up your world.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.