Unbelievers. Non-Christians. Agnostics. Atheists. What is going to happen to them when they die? It’s not a question we often ask (although it is a question that people might ask of us, testing to see what we believe and what sort of God we believe in). It is, however, a question front and centre of our reading from 2 Corinthians. Paul gives an answer. They are lost. Why? The god of this world has blinded them, blinded them so that they don’t perceive the light of the Gospel.
What about them? Let’s just leave that question to one side for a moment and turn it around. What about us? 2 Corinthians suggests that we have received the light of Christ, that to us has been given the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Paul reminds us that we are those on whom the light of God has shone. This is not to pat ourselves on the back or think that we are special or point fingers at “lesser” people. Jesus awkwardly points out From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded (Luke 12.48). There is, in other words, a cost to this privileged position. A commonly used analogy would be that we have been given a present; what matters is that we open it up, take it out and use it. Otherwise, the present, that is, the gift of “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” remains unopened, unexplored and not enjoyed.
What about us? The writer boldly celebrates the shining of the light of Christ in our lives. Is that something you recognise? Do you have a sense of your heart open to the presence of the Lord? Because, if you do, it should matter to you what other people, those who, to use Paul’s word, are “blinded” to the light of Christ. This is not to answer the impossible question of what will happen to them. This is, rather, to point out that truth: that life in Christ, knowing Jesus loves, forgives, and counts you as part of his company, is rich and joyful and hopeful. As followers of Jesus Christ, as those who experience his light in our lives, it is our duty and our joy to share Christ with others. This light thing is not to be hidden under a bushel.