"Light shall shine out of darkness." 2 Corinthians 4:6
In the darkness, where formlessness and void persisted, where there was extreme nothingness, God declared light to the darkness, and light did explode out of the darkness. God then declared the light to be good, and so it was. He also declares his light to be good within us. We are born in darkness, we are formless and void, we have no essence in and of ourselves. Nothing good is within us, and then God places the goodness within us--his own goodness. He is the ultimate good and the source of good in the universe. His is the light. He is the light that shines in the darkness, and his Spirit he places within us is light that shines out of our darkness.
God said that light shall shine out of the darkness. Our hearts are black and dismal, and yet he has given us the light in the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. To know that Christ is God is to have the ultimate knowledge of the light. To know in our hearts the truth of Christ as the only propitiation for our sins is to have the light shine brightly in the darkness of our souls. God puts this knowledge in our hearts, and our hearts react by turning from darkness to light. We are weak vessels--humans--and so this blinding power of light cannot come from ourselves. It can only come from God, who is outside our darkness. He places the light, like a candle, in the darkness of the room of our souls, and yet this candle burns with the light of a thousand suns, obliterating all the blackness and evil within us. Try as we might, our darkness cannot comprehend the light. It cannot overcome the light, and it is shut out. We must understand--and also preach--that this light is from God and not ourselves.
To make this clear, the external Christian life is one of persecution and tribulation. This is important to have. We must be afflicted, so that our internal perseverance can be shown. We must be forsaken on the outside to reveal the light on the inside. When the body is destroyed the impermeable light inside is revealed. If we are doing well on the outside, not only is it impossible to see the light on the inside, but people will assume there is only darkness on the inside. This is a conclusion we do not want the world to make. This is how Jesus lived--suffering on the outside, continually showing the light on the inside.
Passion Sunday is just as important as Easter Sunday. Christ's resurrection is the revelation of the light, but Christ's crucifixion is the revelation of the darkness out of which the light shines, for that stark contrast. We not only carry around in us the living Christ but also the dead Christ. In fact, we primarily carry to the world the dead Christ, so that the living Christ can be revealed. Without the dead Christ, the living Christ is without the magnitude of impact he needs. We show the dead Christ in our sufferings and the living Christ in our redemption. We must preach sin and death before the world can possibly understand salvation and everlasting life.
Allow yourself to be delivered over to death. Die to your old, sinful life. Die to your unbelieving friends and family. The world will gladly help us in this goal, because the light inside must be shrouded in the dark agony of death. The contrast must be seen, and the unbelieving world is willing to assist. For Jesus' sake we must persevere through suffering, not lay fallow in outward prosperity. The more mortal we are to the world, the more immortal Jesus becomes through us. The weaker we appear to the world, the stronger Jesus appears. The more we die, the more the light of life manifests itself outwardly. When the light reaches the world in this way, the darkness of individuals will be touched by the light. They, too, can now suffer on the outside as Christ changes their hearts on the inside. The shadows of evil will begin to die, and those the Lord wills will be changed. The contrast must be seen! Passion precedes Salvation. Persecution precedes perseverance. Let your worldly lives be destroyed, so that the light of God in Jesus Christ can show forth and bring life to an unbelieving world.