Last night, I had the opportunity to watch Session 3 of Passion 2012, a Christian conference focused on social justice and freedom.
A woman named Christina Caine got on the stage and began to talk about her initial exposure to social injustices — namely genocide and human trafficking — and her experiences since then. Over the course of about 40 minutes, she shared anecdotes from her life that shaped her understanding of what it means to be a Christian in an unjust and broken world. Her driving point was that we weren’t created to live within some kind of “Bless Me Club” with fellow Christians, but rather were saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) so that we could do good and fulfill a purpose beyond ourselves (Ephesians 2:10). Specifically, she added, God intended for “rescued people to rescue people” – those still in captivity, both literally and figuratively.
But a lot of times, in Christian America, we do just sit around in our Bless Me Clubs and forget that we’re not just saved by grace, end of story. Or we push aside the pressing need to make an impact in this world.
“What is it about our temporal world that would take us away from the eternal purpose that God has us here on earth for?”
She shared a number of stories, some of which I may write about later on, but the one I want to retell right now is the one she ended with. Caine travels a lot and is an activist against human trafficking, leaving her with a lot of enemies including Eastern European mafia. People tell her often that she needs to be a more responsible mother and stop bringing such “darkness” upon herself. In response, she commented, “…as if the purpose of life is to arrive at death safely.” I laughed.
“Death is the ultimate statistic, sweetheart – one out of one will die,” she quoted someone.
Her final anecdote began with one of her daughters really wanting a Barbie flashlight. So Caine brought her to Walmart – evidently a big deal in Australia – and found a Barbie flashlight. She put in the batteries so that the girl would play with it right away as Caine paid for the item. The girl turned on the flashlight and, of course, that one light among all the fluorescent lighting in Walmart was ineffective. The little girl wasn’t able to see her own light’s impact because it had none.
“Mommy,” her daughter asked, “Can we please go somewhere with darkness?”
Caine stood on the stage and told the audience, “At 3 years old, my daughter had a realization… Light is most effective in only one place – darkness.”
I’m a metaphor person. I love them, maybe a bit too much, but they help me a lot in my thought processes. As I’m writing this out, I’m thinking we’re a bit like solar lights; we need to charge in the ultimate source of light of course, so being among light is necessary to our growth and carrying out our potential. But ultimately, we’re not made to sit in the sun or other light sources. We need to stop hindering our impact, leave our Bless Me Clubs sometimes, and go find where it’s dark and get our light on.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to do a bit of light-shining in 2012…