When I was a child I was afraid of the dark. One of my earliest memories is of waking to see a gigantic feral cat, silhouetted in the moonlight, filling the doorway to my bedroom. Yellow glowing eyes stared menacingly back at me as I contemplated what to do. Terrified, I did the best I could for a three year old: shouted for my dad and dived under the bed covers. From then on I was frightened of any dark places.
Until I grew up that is.
There’s a lot of darkness around, have you noticed? It seems each time we take a peek over that protective bed cover we call Christianity, spiritual darkness looms greater, staring back at us with its evil intentions, threatening to swallow us up, along with our loved ones and our familiar way of life.
Wars and rumors of war spew from the nightly news; mass migrations of suffering humanity spill over national borders we once thought impenetrable; terrorists threaten us daily with unspeakable acts; values we thought sacred and beyond question are increasingly held to mockery and torn down in our courts of law. Death and destruction strike randomly and unexpectedly. Political leaders of all persuasions fail to meet our expectations and often seem on the side of the creeping darkness.
It seems Christianity is under siege.
We have two choices. We can hide back under the bed covers of our traditional religion, ‘tut tut’ our displeasure, and hope it will all go away. Or we can rise up as the militant victorious people we are meant to be, rebuking and driving back the darkness, waving our Bibles and our little white crosses with shouts of hallelujah and war to the death. Right?
(Come on admit it, I had you going for a moment there, didn’t I? Just a little?)
Of course, the other, less popular choice is that we can grow up….spiritually speaking.
Growing up means understanding we don’t get to judge and condemn those who Jesus said are already condemned:
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Jn. 3:17-19
Jesus told us humanity would choose darkness, because in darkness mankind’s evil deeds can be hidden, at least for a while.
Why then would we think we have a right to the luxury of offence? Broken heartedness? Yes. Offence? No.
We have no mandate from Christ to claim the moral high ground, insisting that the world follow our rules. We have no entitlement to demand those in darkness act as if they live in Light. We have no right to religious, chest beating, passive-aggression against those who don’t recognize our way as the true way. We do not glorify Christ when we use worldly tools to dress up our arrogance and falsely label it as ‘love’ for the darkness dwellers.
Because our citizenship is not in this world. We are aliens and travelers on this earth. Kingdom life cannot be wrapped in our country’s flag and claimed as our national heritage. To believe that it can is to walk not in Light, but in a false light that is even greater than the encroaching darkness (Matt. 6:23, Lk. 11:35).
Jesus had some strong words for the two sons of thunder who determined to call down Heavenly fire on some people who were unwilling to receive Him. ‘You don’t know, (understand, recognize) the spirit that is motivating you’ He told them (paraphrase mine). That spirit was not the Holy Spirit, but the carnal and self-indulgent spirit of man (Luke 9:54-56). There are many kinds of zeal in the world; religious zeal is the worst and most destructive, whatever face it wears.
It is evident that spiritual darkness is rising around us. What is not so evident is that a false light is also rising – a counterfeit Christianity that has its foundations firmly planted in carnality mixed with the political, religious and commercial systems of this world. It looks, sounds and acts like righteousness, but it is a counterfeit fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and opposed to the Tree of Life that is the true Christ. I shared elsewhere recently that it’s not the obvious rising darkness Christians need to fear. It is the less obvious false light that holds far more danger, for it has the power to deceive even the elect.
I am convinced there is only one way to deal with the rising spiritual darkness escalating on this sad and broken planet.
This is what Jesus did and it is the model He left us with. He was never offended at the darkness He found in mankind. He did not stand on the sidelines and rail at it. He walked amongst it – unafraid. He was Life and He was Light, and it is Light that consumes darkness, not darkness that swallows Light (Jn. 1:4-5).
As long as Jesus Christ walked in this fallen world He was its only Light. That Light is now encased in the ones He called ‘children of the Light’, those who are of Him and in Him (Jn. 12:36). There is only one thing in all creation that spiritual darkness fears: the Light that is Christ. There is only one thing on this earth that is unassailable by dark spiritual forces: the Light of Christ in His own.
You and I, as long as we abide in Christ, are the Light that overcomes darkness in this world. We don’t have to do anything to make that so: it simply is because Christ said it is. Come out from the covers, drop the ‘them and us’ attitude and find your corner in the darkness….with Jesus. Infiltrate and watch what He will do.
Start today. The prisoners of darkness await.
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You. Ps. 139.12
Acknowledgment: This post was inspired by three blogging friends whose words have impacted me deeply this past week (see below). Thankyou Charis, Nancy and Becky.
People of the Flame, Charis
At The Threshing Floor Tonight, Nancy Bentz
Life From Death, Becky Johnson
© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2015 and beyond. Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included. To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.