Carl Lentz is the pastor of a Hillsong church in New York City. This past week he shared a powerful photo on Instagram of people waiting to enter their church.
On Sunday evening, people lined up to attend the first service, but when it filled to capacity, they stayed in a line that stretched around the street corner for two and a half hours waiting for the next service to start.
Writing on Instagram to his 336,000 followers, Lentz states:
“Last night, hundreds of people couldn’t get into our first service. So they waited two hours to be part of the “second” one… who know, perhaps someday soon we will have our own building. But I will never forget these days.
Every meeting we have ever had, we have to rent a venue. Pay for it. And it’s never big enough! So waiting in a line, to get into an overcrowded room where you just might have to stand the whole time, becomes a normal thing. It’s literally a choice to be inconvenienced.
The photo speaks powerfully of the moving of the Holy Spirit at Hillsong — a branch of a church renown for its worship that started in Australia in 1983.
But it is also fulfilling a promise Jesus made that the church, the community of God, would be the light of the world — a city on a hill.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; (Matthew 5:14 NASV)
What is the purpose of light in darkness? It draws. It serves as direction and hope.
After visiting my parents who live in another city, we often end up driving home at night. There is a certain point in our journey that I start looking for the light of our city radiating into the night sky. It is an unmistakable beacon that home is close.
Light also has power. It doesn’t take a lot of light to pierce the darkness.
The video below shows people climbing Mt Ranier at night. You can see their individual flashlights as they make their way up the mountain. Mt Ranier is 14,411 ft (4,392 m) high and these lights are clearly visible miles away.
But there is another important feature of light. In a city that saw the twin towers taken down by Muslim extremists on September 11, 2001, there are powerful lights in a world growing increasingly darker.
An article on Breitbart tells of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s recent visit to New York City. Khan stated the west needs to get used to terrorist attacks. It is the new norm for urban life.
“It is a reality I’m afraid that London, New York, other major cities around the world have got to be prepared for these sorts of things,” Khan warned.
But when the Holy Spirit begins to move, the light is always the victor no matter how dark it becomes.
The Apostle John wrote:
5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:5 NASV)
The word ‘katalambano’ is translated ‘comprehend’ in the NASV, however this is not the main meaning of the word. It means to capture, seize, to possess, to carry away or over come.
And that is how the word is translated when a father describes the demonic ‘seizing’ of his son and throwing him to the ground (Mark 9:18).
John says the darkness wants to squelch the light but it can not overcome it. In a battle between light and darkness, light always wins.
But there is another aspect of light that is clearly visible in the photo that Lentz shared. Speaking of Jesus, the Prophet Isaiah said His light would draw the nations.
He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also make You a light of the nations
So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6 NASV)
Look at Hillsong’s congregation — you see people of every nation — Caucasian, Asian, Latino and Blacks. Even in the church I attend our congregation is overwhelming multi-racial and becoming more so everyday.
This is the Kingdom of God being a light to the world (John 8:12) — during a time when racial divisiveness is rapidly powering its way into society.