According to an allegory that can be found in various places on the internet, there was once a dark cave deep in the earth that had never seen light and couldn’t imagine what it might be like. One day, the sun sent the cave an invitation to come up and visit. When the cave did so, it was amazed and delighted and wanted to return the kindness, so it invited the sun to come down to visit it sometime, because the sun had never seen darkness. But when the sun arrived and entered the cave with curiosity at what “darkness” would be like, it was puzzled, and said, “I don’t see any difference!”

The world can seem a pretty dark place at times—a loved one going through a scary illness, a child struggling with bullying, a story on the news about a tragedy or natural disaster. Darkness can also enter our relationships through bitterness, resentment, the feeling of being misunderstood, or the refusal to try to understand. And sometimes we make poor choices or give in to our weaknesses, letting the darkness create rifts and wounds that can last a long time.

But what the story of the cave shows is that darkness simply cannot exist in the presence of light. The most oppressive darkness is helpless in the presence of the light. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”1

Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”2 He also says, “You are the light of the world. … Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”3

In these mirrored passages, Jesus, who is the light of the world, in turn calls His followers the light of the world. That’s pretty awesome, but it’s also a challenge. No matter how dark the world may seem at times, it is both our responsibility and privilege to shine His light into the darkest corners of the world, so that people everywhere can have the opportunity to see and come to know Him for themselves.

  1. John 1:5 NLT
  2. John 8:12 NIV
  3. Matthew 5:14–16 NIV, emphasis added