Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cursing The Darkness Or Lighting A Candle?

I remember when I was a kid I used to watch a religious program occasionally on television, I think sponsored by the Lutheran church, that opened up with a person lighting a candle and the narrator saying, "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." I didn't know what they were getting at but I thought the hand lighting a candle in a dark room thing was pretty cool, nonetheless.

I have never forgotten that little phrase but I have often forgotten to practice the message that phrase conveyed. I have been focused a lot lately upon the growing darkness of our culture. It seems no matter where I turn, whether it is on the television, radio or Internet, the darkness seems to be creeping in like a relentless flood. As a dad I worry about what kind of world my children and grandchildren are going to have to live in.

This is not good for a person like me to dwell on. I tend to see things from a negative perspective naturally--I don't need any encouragement to think more in this way. I start sounding like just another "grumpy old man." But here is a portion of Scripture that convicts me of this pessimistic, glass half empty kind of attitude. "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life."
(Philippians 2:14-16a)

It seems to me that this whole thing comes down to perspective. Can we really expect a culture that has rejected God to become anything but increasingly "crooked and depraved?" Or have we ever thought that in God's redemptive purposes he has strategically placed His people who can stand out in the darkness and point the way to Himself? In fact, when times are their darkest His light stands out all the more. That is exactly what happens in both the physical and the spiritual realm.

We live in a suburb of Seattle and most of the time we can't see the stars because of the clouds. On those rare cloudless evenings the stars are visible but because of the city's lights they are not as visible as in other areas, such as the eastern part of the state. This is because in the less populated areas the artificial lights from the ground don't obscure the magnificent display of the stars shining in contrast to the darkness. The darker the sky the more glorious these lights shine!

I can remember a time that eerily reminds me of where we are today. It was the late 60's and early 70's. It seemed like our nation was in the midst of multiple convulsions of a heated up cold war, the Vietnam war, violent protests, social upheaval, RFK and MLK assassinations, a middle east oil crisis, Watergate, growing inflation all sandwiched by two key Arab-Israeli wars in 1967 and 1973.

But something else happened during that time. The secular media called it "the Jesus Movement." This was the largest ingathering of souls in North America in my lifetime. When disillusionment began to set in with what before had seemed so trustworthy and solid, many from my generation turned to Jesus Christ.

It was the very darkness of that time that made the light of Jesus stand out and be seen as desperately needed. There were definitely religious counterfeits, theological confusion and those who fell away after following a short time but that doesn't negate the genuine work of God that did occur during that period.

The Spirit of God led this move and the leaders He raised up were those who recognized that the darkness that had befallen America was a fresh opportunity to present the light of Jesus Christ to a "crooked and perverse generation." They saw the need to place contrasting communities of light in the midst of an increasingly dark culture to draw people to Jesus.

The word of God, the message of the gospel, was simply held out to my generation without political correctness. We Christians were dubbed "Jesus Freaks" during that time much the same way the early Christ-followers were mockingly called "Christians" or "little Christ’s."

It can be argued that we are entering an even darker period at this time. Could God grace us with an even greater spiritual revival today? I pray so. Also, I wonder, could "this present darkness" be what is needed for this Light to shine brightly once again through His people? I don't know. But I do know that it’s still better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

Thankful for the Light,


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