“In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
We live in a world of darkness. There is darkness that is literal. Some people are still without power. When the deep freeze and high winds hit this area just before Christmas, lots of folks around here were without power through the holiday weekend. But for some, a lack of power is a daily reality. Their quality of life isn’t all that far removed from where people lived many generations ago. We may occasionally get nostalgic for that time when watching a show or movie about it, but we would not have really wanted to live back then. There is even more darkness, though, that is spiritual. And although that spiritual darkness is diminishing in some places, it seems to be rapidly advancing in others. What we need in this, or any darkness is light. Let’s talk this morning about where we can find it.
Yesterday was kind of a depressing start to the new year on here. In case you missed it, I went through a short list of the gross injustices going on around the world and in my own nation. The short version of that story is that they are manifold. Everywhere we look it seems, there is one injustice or another unfolding. Some of these are within our sphere of influence such that we could impact them if we felt so called and led. But many more of them lie far beyond that, taking the form of things we can only helplessly watch unfold, often leaving us questioning God’s plans, His power, and even His character. It’s enough to really drag you down if you spend much time thinking about it.
In short, and as I just said a second ago, we live in a world of darkness. Darkness can be a disorienting thing to experience. Sights and sounds that might otherwise be familiar and even comforting take on a much more sinister hue. Things can hide in the dark that might intend us harm. We can miss things when it’s dark that a little light would clearly reveal, but without that aid we can trip over and cause ourselves harm. Just this morning I twice walked through a dark part of the house without turning on any lights, and both times I stumbled over something on the floor that I knew was there, had forgotten about, and tripped on in the dark.
When we are in the dark, the thing we need more than anything else is light. It is amazing how much even a small light can drive back the darkness. For our Christmas Eve service this year (and every year), we ended the evening by turning out all the lights in the room except for the lit candle each person in the room was holding while we sang “Silent Night.” It was a really sweet moment. But although the electric lights in the room were off, the glow of all those candles made it such that the darkness that would have otherwise gripped the room never even got a foothold.
In the darkness, we need light. Light allows us to see. It provides us warmth. It gives us hope. And just like in physical darkness we need light, we need light in spiritual darkness as well. Yet what is it that can provide us such a thing? What can give us hope when all around us seems hopeless? The answer to that question is a vision of a future that is brighter than our present.
Yet what can give us such a thing as that? Certainly, such a vision of the future is not something that has ever come naturally for people. Sure, various ancient religions had stories about an afterlife that was good and beautiful, but it was never something most people expected they would experience. While most people across human history have expected there to be some sort of an afterlife, the vast majority expected it to be about as grim and hopeless as was their life on earth. That, or they simply counted on being able to embrace non-existence. Nothing about these visions of the future gave hope and light to the present.
Then came Jesus.
Jesus brought something genuinely different. He spoke of a future when God’s perfect rule and reign would be extended to encompass the whole world. He assured us of coming justice. He promised His peace for us. He guaranteed God’s love for us. And then, after He died, He came walking back out of the grave to prove it. Jesus really was the light of the world. He really is the light of the world. If you want to see – to really see the world as God designed it to be – the only way you’ll ever be able to do that is if you accept His light. He is waiting to illuminate your life in a way you have perhaps never experienced before. The darkness will not ever overcome His light. As we continue into this new year together, find ways to make His light more and more a part of your life so that you can see more clearly, and so you can help others around you do the same.