“The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:5)
In the darkness of racial violence and dissension, the Light appeared at Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Alabama and many did not understand. As a spokesman for God concluded his remarks at a team meeting early in the 1973 season, almost every single football player accepted the invitation to follow Christ.
The impact was immediate. And while teachers, parents, administrators, coaches, and other students did not comprehend, they could not deny that white players and black players had unified in a dramatic way and that the atmosphere of the entire school was improving. As it became apparent that the only explanation for change was the commitment to Jesus, more and more people (including the head coach) surrendered their lives to Christ.
The sports community truly didn’t understand when it learned that the players from Woodlawn, knowing that Jesus said “Love your enemies,” set up a meeting with their rival opponent, Banks High School, to share the new life Christ brings. When the head coach of Banks and most of his team began following Jesus, people just shook their heads.
The true story is portrayed in the movie ‘Woodlawn,’ and the real people are interviewed in a bonus section of the DVD. In 1974, the undefeated Banks and Woodlawn football teams played before 42,000 people at Legion Field in Birmingham. Officials estimated between ten and twenty thousand spectators were turned away as the stadium was filled to capacity. In a city that needed healing and peace, the Light shone.
The world may not comprehend, but the world notices change. Darkness may recoil at the entrance of Light, but Light brings Life. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world,” knowing full well the darkness wanted to kill Him. But Light reveals Truth, and Truth leads to freedom.
Now Jesus tells those who have received Him as Savior and follow Him as Lord: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12