The Power of Obscurity


This is a post for those of you who are Christians, but who may feel that your life doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Your life seems too ordinary and unimportant. Outside of a close circle of family and friends, you live in obscurity, relatively unknown. You work, eat, sleep, attend church, read your Bible, lend a hand to a neighbor from time to time, celebrate a birth, and mourn at a funeral, seemingly living an uneventful and relatively normal life. You’re hidden within the gloom and darkness of a world that wants nothing to do with God, feel as if you have no special message or ministry from God, and perhaps even feel isolated from the plans and purposes of God.  Yet you believe.

Welcome to the normal Christian life, to a life lived by ordinary faith. As others garner the spotlight, and proclaim a radical message, you get up in the morning and go to work. In the evening you return home. You may struggle to pay your bills, worry about your children, and watch a little television in the evening. However, I want you to know that you are far from ordinary! There is a special power to a life lived in obscurity, but committed to seek God.

Throughout the Bible there are unnamed people of faith, who remain obscure to history, yet who are highlighted in key moments as witnesses to the glory of God and the message of the gospel. These individuals, even those who remain unnamed, have been prepared in obscurity for a special moment when they are used by God to let the light of His glory shine.

Jesus spoke of this in the gospel of Mark:

And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”  

~ Mark 4:21-23, ESV

Read the above verses closely. Jesus is talking about purpose and proclamation. The purpose of a lamp is to shine a light, to bring revelation in the darkness, to expose the hidden so that we have eyes to see.

However, Jesus also seems to be implying that, at the time that He is speaking these words, there are things that are being kept hidden, that remain secret, until the time when the light is brought out to shine in the darkness. Until a day of proclamation. What was being hidden?

First, the revelation of Jesus Himself. Throughout the beginning of Mark you will see phrases such as this: “And he strictly ordered them not to make him known” (Mark 3:12, ESV). The message of Jesus was an unfolding revelation, that the disciples didn’t really understand until after His resurrection from the grave. His purpose remained, yet He needed to wait for the moment of revealing and the time of His proclamation.

Second, the plans and purposes of Satan. In addition to the invisible realm of Satanic evil, which Jesus defeated at the Cross, there was also the visible work of systematic evil, born through the corruption of human hearts; unfolding within the nation through the oppression of the Roman empire and the complicity of national leaders. This would ultimately lead to a time of destruction and scattering of the Jewish people, verifying the validity of Jesus’ message concerning the judgment of God held until the day of revelation (the destruction of the Jewish Temple in A.D. 70).

Ultimately, it would also shine a light on the sin of the nation, and the moral corruption of the Roman Empire, which would implode from within, while “barbarians” were storming the gates without. Again, this revelation that there were two kingdoms at work in this world, was obscured to many even as normal citizens shifted their ultimate loyalty from the “Eternal City” of Rome, to the city “whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10, ESV). These ordinary Christians shined a light on a city far greater than Rome, and a King far greater than Caesar.

There is a power to ordinary faith, lived out in obscurity, waiting for the moment when God moves its light onto a stand. That moment is always held in the hand of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Until then, you are called to a period of preparation as you live faithfully for the Lord, even as creation itself “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19, ESV).

In that day of your revelation, light will shine in the darkness, revealing the glory of the Son of God!

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