The operation had been flawless to this point. We were going to toilet paper the house of one of our church leaders. It was all in fun. We had already been to a couple of houses and this was going to be the last one. It was so dark because the street lights were out. I was hiding behind a bush getting in position. Suddenly, through the bushes a river of water came rushing through the bushes hitting me right in the face. We were undone. Suddenly, hidden soldiers were everywhere with water guns, water hoses. My 17-year-old son would scream, “You scared me so bad!” We couldn’t see them until they were right on us. That is how it is when you are in the dark with little light.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome (NIV)
John compared Jesus to a light shining into the darkness. The darkness is the spiritual forces at work against believers everywhere. Jesus shines a light into this darkness. John says the darkness has not been able to overcome the Light of Christ. And the darkness never will. But I want to focus on the imagery John is giving us here.
Think about when you walk into a dark room and turn on the light. When the light comes on, the darkness is gone. The darkness is defeated and overcome. But in John’s analogy, though the dark has not overcome Christ, Christ has also not wiped out the darkness. Christ is a light, but not a light so great on Earth right now that darkness is gone.
There may be no shadows in Heaven, but darkness is all around us here…
The book of Revelation teaches us that there are no shadows in Heaven because the Light of God is so pervasive (Revelation 22:5). In Heaven, darkness will have been utterly destroyed. We have the Light of Christ in us now so that we are not overcome, but rather more than overcomers in everything we face (Romans 8:37). But around us, all around us, there is darkness. And this is not always easy to reconcile. If God is Light and the devil has already been defeated (Colossians 2:15), why has the darkness remained? Why is there still darkness in this world if God is a God of Light?
This is the existential question. If God is a good God, a loving God, how can there be so much wickedness and evil all over the earth? It is a difficult question to answer. God says that, for now, the light is surrounded by darkness. The goodness of Christ in the hearts of the church is a light shining into the darkness, but the darkness remains ominous. If there was no darkness, people would have no contrast. They would not be able to see the light of God without the darkness of this world. If everything was light, there would be nothing to draw them to the light. Like Nemo in the dark depths of the Earth was drawn to the deep-sea angler fish, people in the darkness should be drawn to the church, the people of God, filled with the Light of Christ in a dark place.
The urgency for the church to walk in the light is greater now more than ever…
When we don’t walk in the light (1 John 1:7), live according to the love and holiness of Christ, the world is not drawn to us. Isn’t this the issue with the church today? For so many decades, the people of God too often did not live in the consistent love, grace, and holiness of God. The church was seen as hypocritical and judgmental-no light. The urgency for the church to walk in the light is greater now than ever before. We are losing our society. We must shine brighter than ever before.
One way that we struggle to shine is that we don’t understand what it means to walk in the light. The light is the light of Christ who has filled us but has not wiped out darkness all around us.
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path. (NIV)
We can lose our patience and begin to walk in the darkness when we try to figure everything out before God shows it to us. We make decisions of how God should do things before He has done them. Our pace of life moves further than the light shines. His light is at my feet and darkness is all around. He is revealing to me what He wants for me and from me one step at a time. I know His path is the path of righteousness leading to more and more light (Proverbs 4:18), but when I am in the dark and I am not sure how to handle a situation or what God wants me to do, the key is not overthinking things or feeling as if we have to fix everything in the moment. If God’s light shines only bright enough for us to see the next step of prayer, then all we need to do is pray. When God is ready for us to take the next step, He will illuminate it to us. We get anxious and nervous worrying about tomorrow and things we can’t control and things we don’t even know will happen or not. Walking in the light requires us to trust God is already in the darkness.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky. (NIV)
Walking in the Light requires us to trust God is already in the darkness…
God may allow the darkness to remain for now, but He commands the darkness. Just because we can’t see doesn’t mean He can’t. Just because things look ominous to us, God is still in control. There is a line in the song “Weep With Me” by Rend Collective that captures this truth so well. “What’s true in the light is still true in the dark.” What a wonderful thought!
We need not be afraid of the dark. It is a shadow that has no substance. It exists because God has allowed it to teach us that walking in the light is to trust Him with every step and not to move until He shines a light on the next step. The Light in us may not shine forth that we can see and understand everything, but God is still the King of the dark and we can trust Him to take the next step when He reveals it. As long as we walk in the light, the darkness will not overcome us because it cannot overcome Him.
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