From the streets of China to the mountains of Nepal. This was where I was taught that 'different' and 'dark' may have been studied from the wrong angle.
People are scared of being different- People avoid standing out. People love to blend into the crowd with tame words and pedicured appearances. Keeping the gardens trimmed and neat while the living room is in utter chaos. People are experts in being moulded by the world. "Please look at the garden but PLEASE don't look through the window". Jesus wasn't bothered by being controversial or 'exposing' Himself. He didn't really fit into the mould of society- His garden and living room looked the same. He challenged how things were being done, He reinvented the status quo. He was real.
What King would use a donkey to make His 'grand appearance'? (Matthew 21) In the modern age I imagine that He could have been driving through the streets with a big boy scooter and most people would not look at Him twice, but if He chose an Aston Martin DB11, people would probably give a little more attention. Or just imagine Jesus walking into one of these big, impressive churches with a thousand or more members one Sunday and stated that: "This is a 'den of thieves'." (Matthew 21) I think one or two of the people might take offense. Jesus only spoke the truth and He did't compromise on His standards. He knew who He was and He knew who His Father was so, why would He then try to be like everyone else? Why do people try to be like everyone else? Stop being moulded by the world because if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15). Let Jesus mould you, be controversial, be real. He took different and made it beautiful.
Another interesting thing I was taught was the concept of darkness. In China and Nepal there are as many temples and shrines as there are churches in South-Africa. Everything rebels against the one true God. Most Christians would describe it as 'dark', like heavy metal music and Oppikoppie. They would decide to avoid these dark places with the fear that the darkness would almost rub off on them. I love how Todd White says it. He asks the important question of how can a place be dark if you are the light? We are described as the light of the world (Matt 5:14) - We carry the light inside of us. So if we enter a dark place, that place will be instantly lit up. Do not underestimate the light inside of you- take the light to the world because if you had to avoid the darkness, you would probably spend majority of your time in your room listening to Hillsong (not that I am saying Hillsong is wrong, but you get the idea).
Changing our angles will probably open our eyes to a multitude of possibilities. In Isaiah 45:7 God says:`I form the light, and created darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.´ God is sovereign, and almighty. He is in control and when you feel you are walking in the dark, remember God is walking beside you, patiently and that He is the light inside of you. As my friend Bruce Springsteen says "You can't start a fire without a spark" so lets start dancing in the dark.