Camera Obscura, Stars and the Gospel

I once brought the youth group into my office, drilled a hole through the wall where I knew an old small window was hiding, and turned off the lights. If it was bright enough outside, I knew that once our eyes adjusted, we would find a movie of the outside world being projected onto my office wall upside down. Essentially, we would be standing inside of a camera, and there I would make my extravagant point.

But it wasn’t bright enough outside, so all they witnessed was a madman drill through the wall and turn off the lights. (Which reminds me, I need to fix that hole… Meh, what’s a few more years?) Check out this video to see what I was going for:

As photographers know, we call this strange effect, “Camera Obscura,” and it’s a pretty good analogy of what we do as Christians. We come alongside those in darkness, shine a little bit of light into their lives and broadcast the upside-down-topsy-turvy Kingdom of Heaven for them to witness.

Sometimes we think that some people are too far from God to be persuaded, but even science shows us that in immense darkness, it only takes a tiny beam of light to completely change our view. Sure, you may feel like you’re hardly impacting someone, but if you are showing them even a little bit of the light of Jesus, you could be making a more drastic impact than you think. Light and darkness cannot exist in one place. Light always wins. So if you illuminate anyone’s darkness, they will have no choice but to acknowledge it.

And if you can shine bright enough, your light could outlast you. That’s how stars work. When we look at our night sky, we could be looking at a bunch of ghosts. Since light has a speed, it takes some time for starlight to reach the earth, meaning that when we look at the stars at night, we’re looking at their light not as it is today, but as it was many, many years ago. Some of those stars could be dead by now and we wouldn’t even know because to us, they’re still shining. You are impacted right now by its past radiance.

Have you ever seen this analogy at play in people’s lives? When my Grandpa passed away, a large church was packed with people for his memorial service. His impact both as a person and a pastor was so significant that I had never heard anyone say a bad word about him. “Mearl the Pearl,” they called him—and the Pearl shined bright. To this day, people who knew my Grandpa (or even knew someone who knew my Grandpa) speak very highly of him. His light has outlived his life and is still traveling around.

The same could be said for all of the saints and heroes of the faith. Why do you know them today? Why do they still impact you though they died years or centuries ago? Because they let their “light shine before others, so that they may see their good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

So we too must shine our gospel light on others that they might see the Kingdom of Heaven, praise God, and be freed of darkness.

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